Jardin d'Ombre by Ormonde Jayne

Jardin d'Ombre is nearly identical to Ambre Royal. JdO is a bit more expensive and harder to find outside of the UK, so if you really want it but find that it's out of reach, just get Ambre Royal. If you're looking for a more affordable Ambre Royal, then look no further than Mugler's Alien. *shrug*

Liquid Cashmere White by Donna Karan

Ah, the Musky Floral. The Perfect Work Scent(TM). Ubiquitous and cliché. New entries into this category - especially designer entries - are often deemed unworthy of our time and attention. One person cries "cheap garbage!" while another sings "Beautiful! A signature scent!" and someone else says "Wait, what? I can't smell anything at all!" As for me? For a category so saturated, it's difficult for me to really connect with a musky floral. It just has to fit, you know? Like a good everyday bra. No lace, no frills, just give me the perfect fit, in tan, and I don't want anyone to see it under my shirt, ok? Like that, but perfume. It just has to smell . . . like me, I guess.

Liquid Cashmere White is a perfectly acceptable entrant into the musky floral category that has expanded exponentially since Narciso and SJP swept through the industry in the early 2000s. It reminds me of a dialed-down Cashmere Mist with a bit of added citric brightness. The osmanthus note is clearly detectable and gives off a delicate tea-like smell that works well with the bergamot and lemon top notes. The citrus opening calms relatively quickly but is still detectable after 30 minutes or so, the vanilla hums along underneath but never overpowers, and the whole thing is wrapped up in a ball of soft white musk (not quite laundry but not animalic, either). It all evaporates after a couple of hours. You can easily find it on discount websites for pennies.

Honestly, I like to keep a few cheap, longevity-challenged work scents that I enjoy in my collection, and Liquid Cashmere White is one of them, for now, alongside D&G's Dolce and See by Chloé. They just work for me. If you are looking for something similar but niche and with better longevity, I suggest anything from Sylvaine Delacourte's Musk Collection - they're all wonderful.

TL;DR: Liquid Cashmere White is a light serving of tea with a squeeze of lemon and two cubes of sugar. Groundbreaking? No. Pleasant? No doubt.

Love Tuberose by Amouage

I adore tuberose, and I expected to like this one just fine. But Love Tuberose manages to use its gourmand elements of vanilla cream and almond to make the composition airier, which is just the complete opposite of what I expected. The sandalwood in the base also provides a nice foundation without adding too much extra weight. Overall, it's a linear thing but a sheer joy to wear and perfect for any season. In my opinion, the best of the Love series thus far, and the only one that truly lives up to its name. Now, I'm off to save up for a full bottle which I can hopefully afford in another year, give or take. *sigh*

Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Femme by Gucci

I'm sad to admit that the first time I tested this, I was underwhelmed. I had been at Ulta for well over an hour, and looking back, I'm pretty sure that my nose was fatigued. At any rate, I wrote this off as boring berries, saddened that it did not live up to the Homme version that I love so much.

Fast forward a few months, and a kind fellow fragrance lover sent me a care package of decants: Bottega Veneta, Salvatore Ferragamo, Hermès, and buried under the rest, Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Femme. I spritzed it on as an afterthought, and then I stopped in my tracks.

This is the kind of fragrance that takes your breath away. Instead of the muted berries I remembered from Ulta, I experienced the needle-sharp, monsterous cypress note that endeared me to pour Homme (even more than the famous gasoline/leather accord). Right behind the roaring cypress came mouth-puckeringly sour berries alongside a big, fat rose that's at once nice and jammy but also somehow ice cold. Farther in the dry-down, there is the faintest hint of leather, more akin to TF's Ombre Leather than to GGA pour Homme, but pleasant and still a fitting homage to the masculine.

I'm going to hop off the train for a moment to say that the longevity isn't great, about 4-6 hours on me if I'm lucky and a skin scent after 2 hours (I have dry skin that eats scent, so take that for what it's worth). I definitely have to carry my decant with me to freshen up during the day, but the opening is so gorgeous that I'd probably respray several times a day regardless.

There are so many things to love here (just look at Redneck Perfumisto's review! So many words in prose from our resident poet!), but the clencher for me is that cypress. Evergreens are a weak spot for me, and this is one of the most beautiful evergreen scents I've had the pleasure of wearing. Backup bottle-worthy x10 for me.

Far Away Gold by Avon

Calice Becker, the perfumer responsible for the original J'adore, Tommy Girl, Tom Ford's Ombre de Hyacinth and Velvet Orchid, Pierre Balmain's Vent Vert, and my personal favorite, Donna Karan Gold, also formulated this hidden gem. That may be a plus or a minus for you, but for me, it's a solid plus.

Admittedly, I'm a big fan of white and yellow florals, so the initial floral sweetness (not much sugar here) doesn't bother me one bit. Once it settles, this is primarily sandalwood, ylang, amber, and vanilla. The strength of the sandalwood note surprised me, and it really mellows out the sweet florals and brings everything together. There are hints of other flowers, primarily jasmine, and others that I can't single out. According to the pyramid on another, erm, "less respected" website lists osmanthus as a note, and I can see why. Though I can't pick it out individually, the osmanthus (or something entirely different, who really knows) gives the whole thing a kind of soft focus, like a 90s Glamour Shot.

The vanilla remains prominent throughout the dry-down, but it never tips into sugary territory. If I had to pick one adjective to describe it, I'd go with "buttery." The sandalwood sticks around just as long, as if to keep Vanilla posed at the just right angle for the camera flash. "Chin up, please. Lean forward a smidge. Now, turn your right shoulder toward me. No, not that far. Riiight there."

Velvet by Avon

This is scrumptious. It's a pretty straightforward jammy rose + patchouli but the fig pushes the jamminess over the top in a good way, for me at least, smelling like a mason jar full of fig/rose preserves so delicious I can practically taste it. What you spray is what you get, and it's a simple, linear pleasure. Luckily, that doesn't mean boring. It has monster projection and incredible staying power--well over 15 hours on my skin--though it's definitely a skin scent after 8-10 depending on how much you spray.

I wear fragrance for my pleasure alone, but I can say that I got more compliments on this in one evening than anything else I've worn in the last year, but that could just be because I misjudged its power and sprayed more than I normally would. What can I say, I'm not a huge fan of attention. And this one brings a lot of it.

Today by Avon

This perfume is the perfect blend of 3 of my favorite white florals: freesia, orange blossom, and tuberose. The joining of these 3 does give off a magnolia kind of vibe, most likely from the bright, sharp freesia juxtaposed against the two creamy, lackadaisical others, as though Orange Blossom and Tuberose are two ladies on pool rafts at a middle class country club and Freesia is the kind server who delivers their lemonade with a little something extra.

Despite the magnolia comparison, I can still smell each flower individually as though they only work together some of the time, when they happen to feel like it. When they do come together, it wears like a good body butter feels, which is pretty astounding for a cheapie.

I think I catch hints of hibiscus every once in awhile, though that could be the pyramid playing tricks on me, and there's musk for sure, maybe with a drop of woods, but Freesia, Orange Blossom, and Tuberose are enough for me and FiFi to get on the raft. You can hop on too, on the Avon website, 2 for $38!

Bois Doré by Van Cleef & Arpels

I had no experience with Van Cleef & Arpels prior to testing a few fragrances from their Collection Extraordinaire line. I would classify the few I've tried thus far as understated (and underrated). Bois Doré opens with a non-gourmand, dry vanilla with an excellently blended tobacco projecting with equal strength. This is no Tobacco Vanille. Where the Tom Ford announces his presence with heavy footsteps and continues plodding for several hours like the quintessential upstairs neighbor, the VC&A unfolds almost gently, radiantly, like catching a glimpse of a shy but gorgeous wallflower at a cocktail party.

Balance brings forth the beauty of Bois Doré. No single note overwhelms the whole, but each note offers a unique and identifiable contribution to the composition. A cherry-tinged almond blends with the dry vanilla but also somehow stands alone, avoiding the common, overly-sweet cherry tobacco that is often the byproduct of joining almond and tobacco accords.

Tonka bean and something woody (cedar, perhaps, if the pyramid is to be trusted, but most likely a combo of various woods) round out the base, giving the whole thing sturdy legs to stand on for its 12-hour lifespan. The final hours quiet almost all of the notes except for the vanilla and woods, and it gets a little sweeter before finally calling it a day.

Overall, this is probably my favorite vanilla + tobacco fragrance thus far in my journey to smell every perfume ever made (apparently). Absolutely worthy of a full bottle for me, and worth testing for anyone who appreciates a nuanced tobacco.

I See the Clouds Go By by Floraïku

Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Femme that costs $350/60ml. The bottle is gorgeous though, and refillable, if it's worth it to you. I'll stick with my Gucci (it lasts longer anyway).

I Am Coming Home by Floraïku

This smells like a slightly more refined White Tea & Ginger by Bath & Body Works. Not bad.

Oudh Infini by Parfums Dusita

Oudh Infini is the most prim oud fragrance I have ever smelled. Don't let your guard down, though - this is true oud in all of its woody, fecal majesty. The addition of civet makes this a fragrance not for the faint-hearted, and this should certainly be no one's first foray into oud. However, the perfumer accomplishes something quite profound: a clean oud. This is a barnyard that has been recently scrubbed, replenished with fresh hay, and is home to several well-groomed horses.

The pungent primary oud note smoulders alongside a soapy orange blossom, and the entire composition is rounded out with a touch of rose and a hair of civet, just to emphasize that a clean barn is, after all, still a barn. The extrait performs as it should, easily lasting over 24 hours on skin with a modest projection of about 12 inches for the first 6-8 hours before withdrawing closer to the skin.

After trying all of the Parfums Dusita collection, I can say that Oud Infini is the absolute stand-out fragrance for me, trailed closely by Issara and La Douceur de Siam. Give them all a try, though, to find your own. This is a truly outstanding house.

Amazon Lily by Nest

Oh, God. I blind-bought this from Sephora after reading the piss-poor reviews on Fragrantica and writing them off as over-exaggerations. The 50ml bottle was marked down to $42, so I went for it.

As you may have assumed based on the red box around this review, it did not go well. The industrial cleaner that I heard about over and over again was too kind a description for Amazon Lily. Imagine an acrid, rotting orange + lime jelly smeared on the metallic surface of a Walmart bathroom stall and then sprayed with straight ammonia. Honestly, how was this a staple for Nest for so long? I generally give skin chemistry more weight than I probably should just to give perfumes the benefit of my doubt, but come on.

Tiffany & Co by Tiffany

Tiffany & Co knows what it is and owns it. A sheer fruity floral, Tiffany reminds me of Bal d'Afrique if you stripped it of its basenotes and left only musk to support the fruit. There's more here than the pyramid suggests: blackcurrant, peach, bergamot, and lemon join the green mandarin, and the iris softens the sourness of the fruit. Laundry musks are detectable but not overpowering in the base, and the whole journey is over in 3-4 hours.

Tiffany & Co. really does smell like the crystal-cut bottle that houses it. Bright, effervescent, and pretty. I wouldn't buy a bottle, but I'd definitely use one if it were given to me and may consider gifting it to a friend or family member in the future.

Fruity-florals get a bad rap, and I can understand the disdain for certain modern fragrances (*cough*flowerbomb*cough), but Tiffany is a well-executed perfume, light and cheery, and perfectly tailored to its primary audience (young women, of course). Carat by Cartier has a similar feel without the fruit: light, bright, and boisterous. Modern perfumery could (and often does) do worse.

Lotus Santal by Thymes

This review is primarily based on the scented body lotion and hand cream. Thymes also makes a cologne-strength perfume which lasts 3-5 hours (and much, much longer if layered).

Lotus Santal is a moderately sweet sandalwood and amber affair with pronounced vanilla and cocoa notes that never turn overly gourmand. There are distinct similarities to Serge Lutens' Santal Majuscule, which I also love. The Thymes is a bit smoother around the edges which could be a good or bad thing depending on your particular taste. I find many SLs to be too discordant on my skin (ex. Fleurs d'Oranger turns into B.O. on my skin but is a wonderful, spicy orange blossom on my husband with just enough stink to balance the whole composition), but I love how Santal Majuscule works on me. Fortunately, Lotus Santal works the same magic at a fraction of the price, so until I have more disposable income, I'm happily hitching onto its wagon.

The body lotion and hand cream are quite luxurious, and the scent lasts and lasts. If put the scented lotion on after my evening shower, I can still smell it in the morning (albeit faintly). I plan to purchase the cologne for layering, and the $40/50ml price will be much kinder to my bank account.

Rare Amethyst by Avon

Oof, this is sticky-sweet. Plum and violets? Maybe, but I actually get a rather juicy pear. An oversized one, on a stick, held by a toddler who 1.) has bitten into the pear, spilling its juice, and 2.) is behind you on a plane, casually thwacking you over the head with it.

In all actuality, this is eerily similar to Ralph Lauren Woman, but it lacks the hefty tuberose and bittersweet hazelnut that give RL Woman balance. Fruity-florals must walk a thin tightrope to work, and unfortunately, Rare Amethyst is an elephant.

Rare Pearls by Avon

God, this one took me by surprise. This is one of four perfumes I blind bought from Avon on a lark having never tried one of their fragrances before. This is a big, stinking, waxy magnolia unlike anything I've encountered before. I don't get any sweetness at all. In fact, the broom flower, pepper, and green notes (and eventually the pinch of patchouli) keep this one from even approaching sweet. The faint traces of honey (and I guess plum? I honestly can't pick it out) help round everything out, but they certainly don't steal any of the limelight.

coveyrun's review gave me the push I needed to give this a try, as I am a born and bred Southerner (well, Texan first, Southerner second) and simply adore magnolias. I grew up around magnolia trees in East Texas, and several dozen magnolia trees line the sidewalks along the path I walk to get to work every day. Needless to say, I may need several dozen backup bottles of this.

Womanity by Thierry Mugler

I have finally found my Mugler. Alien screeches on me, Angel goes stale, Aura flattens into a plastic, cellophane-like licorice, and my skin has devoured all of the Alien and Angel flankers I've tried. Talk about funky skin chemistry.

Womanity absolutely blossoms on my skin. Well, "blossom" may be the wrong word. The initial blast of fig--all overripe fruit and zero leaf--comes roaring off of my skin alongside an almost-but-not-quite-over-the-top fishy/metallic smell. It's basically fig and salt, and it's incredible and discombobulating. Within a few minutes, the monster turns back into a kitten and a bit of green fig leaf comes through to soften the edges and bring me back to blessed reality.

The wood is detectable though clearly not the focus of the composition, but thankfully it keeps the whole squirming thing on the ground.

Just as I was cursing the perfume lords for discontinuing the one f*@#ing Mugler that finally worked on me, I heard that Womanity miraculously and unceremoniously reappeared on Mugler's website. Well hot damn, Thierry. Beam one over.

BR78 : Vintage Green by Banana Republic

This is one of my recent favorites. Indigo by Nest was one of my first "grown up" (ha!) fragrances back when I knew nothing about perfume and had no idea you could identify the notes beyond what the marketing campaign said. Remember the days when you just sprayed and smelled with complete ignorance and no expectations? That's where I was in Sephora, spraying on strips with abandon, when I came across Indigo and fell in love. But this isn't a review for Indigo, so I should probably move on.

Fast forward several years, and here I am on Basenotes, somewhere between "newbie" and "seasoned sniffer," and I'm still drawn to many of the same notes that I loved in the first place. It's comforting to know that I still love what I loved before even though my taste has broadened at an alarming rate.

Now, Vintage Green. The four reviews behind this one nail it, so I'll do my best to add value. This fragrance is bright with citrus and fig, yes, but it's the green that draws me closer. There's a particular smell that big tropical plants let off when it's humid and H-O-T outside, and Vintage Green captures that smell. I'm seated by a pool surrounded by dense, green foliage, trying to keep to the shade because I forgot my sunscreen, and I'm drinking iced tea to keep cool. I'm about to jump in the water, sunscreen be damned. Isn't that refreshing?

Santalum by Fiele Fragrances

I received a sample of Fiele's Santalum from a generous eBay seller from whom I bought a few decants of vintage Donna Karan fragrances.

This smells like pee. Literally. Like human urine. Wow.

Fortunately, my decants and other samples are lovely or I might have taken it personally.

You've been warned.

EDIT: after about 2.5 hours, the pee smell faded to a soft sandalwood and patchouli skin scent. Not unpleasant, but too little too late for me, I'm afraid. I don't want to spend two hours smelling like pee for any reason, let alone just to get to a fairly basic dry down.

L'Eau d'Issey Or Absolu /Gold Absolute by Issey Miyake

There are actually two completely different perfumes, L'Eau d'Issey Absolue (2013) and L'Eau d'Issey Gold Absolute (2011). This review is for Absolue.

This is quite plastic-like on my skin, but it's not completely horrible. I can pick out lotus and honey, but the composition is faint overall and comes across a bit thin and synthetic. Maybe it would work better with someone else's chemistry. I don't feel the need to scrub it off, but I don't plan on using any more of my sample, either.

I do still want to try Gold Absolute as I'm a big lily fan, and I think I would enjoy that lily/osmanthus combo.

Versace by Versace

Versace Signature really does smell fresh and "alive." I enjoy this immensely, and I wouldn't normally call this my style (though I have smelled and grown to love so many scents that it's impossible for me to narrowly identify my style anymore). "Dewy" really is the most accurate adjective to describe it, and the guava and blackcurrant in the background don't stick out as fruity per se; rather, they quietly add to the fresh and dewy impression.

I imagine myself outdoors on a cool spring morning. I'm still wearing a light, flowy dressing gown, and I'm sitting on a small swing that hangs from a tree branch in my backyard as the sun finally rises high enough to become visible in the sky. The ground starts to warm, the dew begins to evaporate, and the flowers on the back porch and in the overgrown garden release a soft aroma that's carried on a cool breeze.

Yeah, this is totally my style.

Iris Rebelle by Atelier Cologne

The iris/neroli/musk combo here smells to me like envelope adhesive. Funny, I get the same thing from O, Unknown! by Imaginary Authors. It could just be an issue with my skin + orris, but either way, it sets my teeth on edge.

Waterlily Sun by Aerin

This is a watery bore. Sour citrus + synthetic green notes on a shaky base of synthetic musk. Sticks around for about 60-90 minutes. If it were a Jo Malone, it might be called "Lime & Pond Water." Almost offensive in its banality.

Save your money and buy Versace Versense or Atelier Cologne's Cédrat Enivrant. Even Target's Water Lily by Good Chemistry is better than this.

Vanitas by Versace

Wonderful for summer, Vanitas EdP is simple but not at all boring. The strong lime top note mellows pretty quickly and blends with a perfectly balanced tiare and freesia heart. The cedar and tonka are whisper-light, providing enough ground for Vanitas to bloom.

At first (and simply based on the notes - I know, I know), I thought it might be redundant to own a bottle of Vanitas when I already own Terracotta Le Parfum, but they are quite different, and I definitely plan to pick up a bottle. Terracotta has a warm, musky sunscreen vibe while Vanitas' white flowers lightly flutter across the skin. Terracotta is a tan woman in a bikini on the beach, and Vanitas is her sister who prefers a white sundress, wide-brimmed hat, and a seat on the patio under an umbrella.

Vanitas EdT is also quite nice. Rose petals, osmanthus, and tea replace the lime and tonka, making the EdT more of a tea rose a la (new) Chloe EdP.

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