I have been wearing the same perfume for seven years now. (With no regrets, I might add.) My fragrance for all this time? “I Love Love” by Moschino. It is a bright, “optimistic” scent with strong citrus notes and a woody and floral dry down. It is heaven (it smells very similar to “Light Blue” by D&G). But it occurred to me that in seven years I have become someone quite different (in positive and unimportant ways alike). I am now a real, live woman with a family, experience, and even a few grey hairs as well as new aspirations that are far greater than losing 5 pounds or winning the volleyball state championship. Perhaps it’s time to try a scent that celebrates these changes. “I Love Love” is not an adolescent-smelling fragrance (it doesn’t smell like candy), but it is the fragrance I wore through the end of my adolescence. It’s time for a change.
To find a new fragrance is more than finding something that smells good. It’s finding a fragrance that announces (or whispers) who you are. (Mr. P, quit rolling your eyes.) For some of your friends, this smell will bring you to mind whenever they encounter it. It is a big deal. It’s as important as Harry Potter and his wand, y’all (except the perfumes don’t choose you so it’s harder, and well, you can’t do combat with perfume or disarm people with perfume, and heaven forbid if they shove unicorn hair in a bottle of perfume, nevermind). So I went on the most exciting errand ever and journeyed to Sephora where I told the employee in the fragrance department, “I’m looking for a new fragrance. I love citrus and woodsy smells. I don’t like florals. Aaaand go.” Forty (ish) fragrances later (yeah), we narrowed it down to three and thus realized that I particularly like “green” smells — herbal, botanical, natural smells. Tea was a theme in many of the fragrances I liked. Ellen (my helpful Sephora sales associate) hooked me up with some samples for the testing.
My method for this was to try each of them several times before making a decision. The first trial was without reading the fragrance descriptions so that I might develop on honest, informal opinion, relying completely on my nose. The second trial entailed reading what went into these fragrances so I could look out for those notes.
1) Toca Bianca
This fragrance boasts smelling like a seaside cafe in Southern Italy. Um, yes. I definitely needed to know what that was like. Upon smelling it on paper, it was surprisingly sweet. Sephora’s website describes the fragrance as “open[ing] with a light citrus blend of lemon orpur and mandarin. Green tea and rose petals bloom, while a whisper of musk and sugar linger on the skin, capturing the imagination.” It’s listed as having notes of burgamot, lavender, mandarin, lemon orpur, rose petals, jasmine, green tea, musk, and sugar. All things good, basically. I was surprised at how different it smelled on my skin than on a sample paper. The rose was the strongest smell with hints of tea, citrus, and musk. The first floral fragrance I’ve ever liked, and I loved it! I couldn’t stop smelling my wrists (in public). It was definitely very (maybe too) feminine for me, so I wasn’t sure if it was a fragrance I would wear. The second trial confirmed my suspicions that it was, in fact, too floral for me to wear regularly.
2) Hermès Un Jardin sur le Toit
“Un Jardin sur le Toit” translates to “rooftop garden.” Exciting. While I love all three of these fragrances, this was probably my least favorite of them in the store. When I first tried it on, a peppery smell stood out above the earthy, grassy tones. While the pepper smell kept it from being as hyperfeminine as Bianca, it was so overpowering that I didn’t like it. Sephora’s website doesn’t offer much in the way of specifics in their description: “Jardin sur le Toit features a little slice of nature perched on the rooftop of the building of the house of Hermès, 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré. A feast for the sense and the mind. A fragrance of light and delight, crunchy and cheerful.” The Hermès website describes the blend as “fruity, vegetal, [and] floral.” My second wear was surprisingly different. At first it was crisp like green apples, grass, and pepper. Then once it dried it was like magnolias and damp earth. More generally, it smelled clean and sweet in a fun, adventurous sort of way. It quickly rose to being my favorite (how can two trials be so different?).
3) BVLGARI Eau Parfumee Thé Vert
“Thé Vert,” meaning green tea, seemed like a perfect match when I read the title. When first sprayed on the sample paper, though, it smelled very… normal. Ellen insisted I not smell it until it was dry, and when I revisited the sample paper after a few minutes, my opinion changed entirely. It was complex and fresh. Sephora’s website writes that its notes are: “Italian Bergamot, Tunisian Bitter Orange, Spanish Orange Blossom, Ceylon Cardamom, Jamaican Pepper, Russian Coriander, Bulgarian Rose, Egyptian Jasmine, Green Tea, Smoked Wood” and describes its stye as lively, delicate, and discreet. Um, sign me up!? I want to be lively, delicate, and discreet! Haha. But really. After leaving Sephora with this sample, I was expecting it to be a clear winner, but my first trial was no such victory. On me it smelled like Stetson cologne (self-described as “unabashedly masculine”). I know this because visions of one of my best friend’s grandfather (a devout Stetson customer) kept popping up in my head while wearing it. As it turns out, these two fragrances actually have several things in common: bergamot, smoked wood, and citrus. Who knew these smells could combine to create such extreme feminine and masculine scents. My second trial was slightly forgiving, revealing hints of the orange blossom and rose, but the pepper and wood notes made the fragrance smell overly masculine and musky for me. So sad.
In the end, Un Jardin sur le Toit was my favorite. Only problem? An ounce and a half costs $100. So now I am on a quest to find a fresh alternative with this fragrance as my inspiration. The search continues. I’ll keep you posted on what I find.
What are your signature fragrances? Any suggestions to satisfy my earthy taste?