Not so long ago, I sat down with my ever-propagating collection of samples and reached the conclusion that if something weren’t done, I’d drown. The guilty pleasures I love to wear and have yet to review, the guiltier pleasures of stuff I need to review and I don’t know where to start, the perfumes I really should be reviewing if I want to take this somewhere…and really, people, summer vacations are too precious to tie yourself in knots over all the things you should be writing, when you are in fact supine on the grass painting cloud pictures with Spider-Man Jr.
So in my little blue review box I have five perfumes from five different houses, all different, all neglected and all of them several shades of self-perpetuating headache. Not for being so bad that none of them merited their own review, but simply because…mini reviews are cool! They cut to the chase and free up energy for something truly spectacular to come, and trust me…it’s coming!
I’ve already said too much!
Party Girl Gone Wrong
Angel Garden of Stars Peony Angel, by Thierry Mugler
If I were ever to make up a Top Five of perfumes I loathe, somewhere on that list you would definitely find the original – and for a time nearly ubiquitous – Angel. You may love Angel. You can have her. Any way and any time you please. This flanker, part of the Garden of Stars series, was off to a promising start the first time I tried her. Sweet, as Angel is, heady and very pretty, or so I thought. The second time, not so much. She became the ‘friend’ you invite to a party on that fatal ‘more-the-merrier- premise, only to drink a vat of chocolate mojitos, strip in your kitchen sink, make a pass at your boyfriend, bawl when he turns her down, and disintegrates into a sodden, sorry mess at 3 AM. And worse…she just won’t leave!
There’s peony in there, all right, pretty at first but soon screaming in horror over the company she’s in…patchouli, pepper, chocolate, and Big, Bad Viagra Wolf Vanilla, the second before they all…eat her alive and entire, and you’re left with that gory Wes Craven horrorfest known as ‘Angel’s Revenge’. It comes in a 3D Director’s Cut that runs at least eight hours…too long.
Notes: Pepper, peony, patchouli, chocolate, vanilla
The Hamptons Haughty Go Nicely
Eau d’Hadrien, by Annick Goutal
This is a lemon that went to finishing school in Switzerland, married very well, and now spends her time doing appropriately worthy things with her perfectly appropriate, beautifully turned out children, also lemons like herself, while the Big Lemon Cheesecake does unspeakable things on Wall Street.
There is no room for surprises in Ms. Hamptons Haughty’s universe, because even that slightly risqué touch of grapefruit never overstays its welcome. And when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade you enjoy in a Baccarat glass with a view to the Atlantic on the right stretch of the Hamptons and not even the discreet cypress drydown will ever, ever tell that if pressed hard enough, this lemon will admit sotto voce…she hates Ralph Lauren. That’s just not…nice, and this is a veddy, veddy nice lemon.
On the other hand and the other side of the picket fence, her snarky neighbor calls her Pledge behind her back, and knows exactly what the Cheesecake gets up to in the meatpacking district.
Notes: Citrus, lemon, grapefruit, cypress
The Prettiest Wannabe
Petalia, by Chantecaille
Petalia tries, really, really hard. If I were awarding report cards for effort, she’d surely deserve an A. She is fluffy gardenia, sweetest tuberose and all things gloriously beautiful, and yet somehow, some way…she disappoints. It’s not that she isn’t beautiful, it’s not that she isn’t immaculately turned out and flawlessly coifed, it’s not even the fact she has not one speck of lipstick on her perfect pearly teeth.
No, it’s that Petalia has a deep, dark secret. She wants to be something else, someone else, someone else who had this very same idea several years ago and pulled it off with such panache and èlan. She really, really wants to be Estée Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, but she’s just not…all…the way there yet. Honey, I’m sorry. Really, I’m sorry. But TG got to me first and best and always, and there you have it. Now, Petalia has a major identity crisis. She tried so hard, and for a lot of people, that will probably be good enough. Not me. I’ll keep my EL PC TG, thank you. Because I’m that kind of picky…errr…witch!
Notes: Gardenia, tuberose, woods, musk
Surfing the Island Breezes
Vents Ardents, by Envoyage Perfumes
If happiness is a Caribbean vacation, then here you go, folks…here’s Montego Bay in a spray, here’s take me a-w-a-y…the perfect cure for the miseries of summers in the left armpit of Northern Europe. Shelley Waddington put de lime in de coconut (and just a touch of that), added rum, a few leaves of bay, a good Dominican cigar and stirred. Voilà! Montego, back when it was cool, before it was ruined by ‘all-inclusive’ and package tours, back when you could look up and see Ian Fleming knocking out the next James Bond blockbuster on his terrace, and meanwhile, life was a tradewind breeze on a perfect moon-shaped beach beneath the coconut palms before a sea such an improbable shade of blue. Stella got her groove back in Jamaica, mahn…and yours truly looked up from her wrist and remembered…oh! That’s right! It’s summer…
I’m going to pack this one away for January, when I need all the Jamaica I can get…
Notes: Citrus, vanilla, bay, tobacco and Jamaica rum
The Tattoo Rose
Rossy de Palma, by Etat Libre d’Orange
There are celebufumes, and there are…the Etat Libre versions. No one, but no one does ‘em like ELdO. If Tilda Swinton Like This did wonders for pumpkin and immortelle – which it did! – then surely Rossy de Palma should do miracles no less for Bulgarian rose. Ah, Rossy, heroine and mainstay of so many Almodovar movies, and if ever there were proof that attitude can get you far indeed, that you are as devastating as you can think, it would be you! My neuroses have never been the same since I met you in ‘Women On the Verge’…And then you got in cahoots with Etienne de Swardt and made your eponymous perfume, and I now have twice as much to be grateful for! Because this is a glorious, twisted, unusual rose, the rose with all the thorns and all the petals, a spicy, fiery green and smoky rose, this is a rock’n’roll and Gothic kind of rose, as beautiful and as unique as you. My kind of rose, and I do like the unconventional – in roses as in roll models. I really need a full bottle of this, just to prove to all those wan wannabes what a rose can do for you! And for me. A rose is a rose is a Rossy, too!
Tattoo this rose, somewhere I can show it…
Notes: Bulgarian rose, bergamot, geranium, ginger, jasmine, black pepper, cocoa, frankincense, patchouli, benzoin
Hands down, Rossy de Palma won the day. But Vents Ardents surprised me in all sorts of good ways on a cool, gray day, and I can’t wait to see what it might do for my mood in dismal, darkest January…