Exciter76Exciter76's Perfume Reviews

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1 Awards
There is this crazy contradictory thing that happens here in the online perfume community: either people are seeking out artificially fruity scents that recall childhood relics or they’re seeking authenticity that places them squarely in the middle of a berry patch. It seems as if there is no one who enjoys both. I cannot accept that as truth as I enjoy both kinds of scents. Being a child of the 1980s I had a collection of Strawberry Shortcake dolls, fruit-scented erasers, scratch-and-sniff stickers and other doodads scented with plasticized fruits. Also, I love (real) fruit. I find the scent of the local farmers’ market absolutely intoxicating. Long story short? Both scent variations on fruit appeal to me.

I Love New York for Her is in the 1980s-scents-of-childhood-toys category. There is no denying the unmistakable scent of blueberries. The company claims the smell is that of blueberry muffins; I’m dubious to believe this. I can smell Strawberry Shortcake’s mate, Blueberry Muffin, but not actual blueberry muffins. Does this bother me? Not at all! I quite enjoy this, if I’m being honest. It is nostalgic and joyous. Is this unacceptable at its initial price point of $105 per 50ml? Maybe. As many online reviewers have commented the scent recalls other artificial fruity pop confections out there, namely Britney Spears’ Midnight Fantasy and Bath and Body Works’ Dark Kiss. However and most regrettably, those devolve on my skin in the most revolting way, recalling the scent of melted plastic and claustrophobia, given their cloying natures. ILNYfH does not become a synthetic and cloying mess on me. If anything, it dries down to a smooth and sophisticated fruitchouli, standing miles apart from the masses’ La Vie Est Belles and TM Angels. For me, it is worth the higher price point.

Bond No. 9 has its die-hard fans and its detractors. For the longest time I was one of those detractors. I’ve since found loves within the house but still feel at times they offer pretentiousness in a bottle. This is one of those times where they do not take themselves too seriously but also do not insult the customer with short-lived novelty and no substance. It’s a pity they did not feel it was worth keeping around.

3 Awards
It’s easy—and lazy—to conflate old age with vintage when it comes to perfumes. What one person calls 'granny-ish' another person considers 'modern vintage'. Perfumes containing aldehydes are especially held culpable for being 'old lady-ish', as if being an old lady is a bad thing! I’m not particularly fond of aldehydes but I can appreciate them in a perfume, such as Chanel No. 5. Every once and again there’s an aldehyde perfume that knocks me on my rear and changes my perspective. Madison Soiree is just such a perfume, my modern vintage.

I can break down notes, I suppose: ALDEHYDES and OAKMOSS in all caps, white florals, and unabashed soapiness. Being a Bond No. 9 perfume, the longevity of this scent is stellar. Two sprays in the morning remain with me well into the wee hours of the night. The scent itself is reminiscent of other scents that have come before, namely Climat and Madame Rochas. That’s not to say MS is a doppelganger of Climat or Madame Rochas, at least as my memory serves, but they share familial ties of classic aldehydic florals. Is it worth its asking price? Yes and no; the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” comes to mind but I’m also reminded of other outstanding scents that are a fraction of the price. (I found my bottle at a local discounter so it was worth the deeply discounted price; would I have paid full price? No.) Suffice it to say, this is gorgeous and long-lasting but it’s not exactly groundbreaking or genre-defying.

Forgive me, but I’m drawn to analogous situations and events when it comes to perfumes, especially one like this. Several years ago I went to see my friend’s psychobilly band play one night in Hollywood. Stepping in the venue was like taking a trip through time—everyone in attendance was dressed in the hippest threads of the 1950s. Ladies wore elaborately patterned frocks with petticoats and men wore rolled-up drainpipe jeans and pompadours. Madison Soiree reminds me of that particular night, when twenty- and thirty-somethings dressed as their grandparents did long ago but looked au courant. This feels at once vintage and on trend.

5 Awards
Jessica Simpson defied expectation with her celebuscent, Fancy Nights. Not that I see her donning a lab coat and protective goggles while comparing methods of oakmoss extraction. Maybe this did, in fact, take place. I highly doubt it but one never knows. Oh, but to take a whiff of this beauty, one has to wonder if maybe she could hold a discussion about such things.

A reviewer below mentioned the smell of books. I love this because it smells like an old opened book. There’s a little dust, an underlying mustiness, and an unusual inky element. Above all, there is the smell of paper. I am no expert but I’ll venture to guess it is due to the papyrus note. The patchouli is a bit dirty but like those found in head shops. It is very verdant here, like reading books in a forest. Longevity is superb, and though I find it is linear it is surprisingly complex, too.

I must confess: I hated this the first few times I tried it. I was reminded of a pine-scented household cleanser. I think this initial reaction was due to the fact I’d grown accustomed to celebrity scents smelling of candy floss and sugar cubes. This defies any and all expectation of what a celebuscent is and could be. Yes, this is sweet but it isn’t gourmand. FN is a very green vanilla—my favorite genre of fragrance—and it is totally inedible. For what it is, FN is very daring and worthy of commendation. Perfume aficionados should try this once, then two more times before either completely dismissing it or falling hopelessly in love.

5 Awards
Once upon a time I hated this perfume. Sugary patchoulis like Shalimar Parfum Initial seemed ubiquitous; in bars, in offices, at the mall, along sidewalks—it was everywhere and I loathed it. Worse still, SPI smelled foul upon first sniff of the tester nozzles at Sephora and Ulta. As far as I was concerned SPI had absolutely no redeeming qualities. It was at Ulta that I had my first (accidental) skin contact with SPI. From that day on, I understood SPI’s appeal.

When other people wear perfumes, even perfumes we enjoy, the perfumes go through a sort of transmutation. I have a friend who wears one of my favorite perfumes. I hate smelling it on her—it becomes a musky, sweaty, burly beast of white florals and sugar and I simply want to scream. So I have to accept that perfumes change from one person to the next. That minor epiphany had not come to me yet when I was swearing off SPI. It was sugar and filthy patchouli as far as I could smell. I could not fathom how anyone would want to smell like this.

On my skin, it’s not saccharine and dirty patchouli. It is several layers of gauzy sweetness, powdery florals, and a rich patchouli that was meant to add density at the center of all the diaphanous goodness. The timeless Guerlainade is ever-present throughout, adding another beautiful layer to this scent. It’s deceptively simple until it’s fully worn. Unless you are smelling every delicate layer reveal itself—and it is a slow striptease that goes on for several hours—SPI cannot be fully appreciated.

I’m glad I came around before this gem was discontinued. And why the heck was it discontinued? I’ll never understand it. It has a cult following and the potential to become as iconic as Shalimar, Mitsouko, or L’Heure Bleue. Whatever, I have a stockpile of bottles to satisfy me for at least a few years. Maybe in that time SPI will be brought back to the masses? Just because there is an oversaturation of fruitchoulies and sugar bombs on the market doesn’t mean there isn’t room for SPI.

5 Awards
Fantasia has been a long-standing love of mine. It came to me in a blind swap several years ago from a Fragrantica member who understood my tastes better than I understood them. It’s a throwback kind of scent, yet its use of subliminal vanilla lends it a modern vibe. I knew I loved vanilla but it solidified my love. It has been five years and I love Fantasia as much as I did when I first received it.

Here’s what’s ‘throwback’ about Fantasia: it has soft chypre bones. It has bergamot at the top, a floral heart, and a mossy base. These soft bones feel an awful lot like R.L. Safari, with its dusty, green subtle chypre. However, that neo-traditional structure is there to support the more updated 1990s-style fruity floral, a la Giorgio Wings/E.A. Splendor/B.M. Perhaps. Absolutely fitting since it was released in 1996, right? But what’s retro-modern about it is its use of vanilla. Somewhere between Angel and Fantasy there was this. Vanilla does not rule the roost but its presence is felt throughout. It’s not a sugarbomb but this does make good use of its dry vanilla beans. Because I do not recall Fantasia being ubiquitous like Clinique Happy, it does not feel dated.

I am hopelessly in love with Fantasia so it’s only fitting that it has long been discontinued. I’ve amassed a small arsenal of Fantasia bottles in my closet for fear of being without forever. I’d love for it to return to market but since Fendi has decided to eliminate all perfumes from their brand I’ll just have to make do. Or, I can claim the last remaining bottles on various auction sites before sellers request a king’s ransom.

3 Awards
Saint Martin is nice. Mimosa and a super clean white musk—that is all there is to it. It is a simple floral musk made for unbearably hot weather. I must admit I was expecting something a little more exotic built around hibiscus; I’ll stick with Comptoir Sud Pacifique’s Fleurs des Caraibes for my tropical hibiscus fix. It has moderate longevity, which is impressive for a natural perfume. I cannot speak for sillage or projection since I received a foil-sealed dab sample. All in all, I like it but it is not full bottle worthy, especially at $125 USD.

8 Awards
When I was in my early teens I received my mom and my aunt’s perfume hand-me-downs. My opinions of those scents were of no consequence; love it or hate it, I wore it. Of course, it was always better when I loved the second-hand perfume. I hated Oscar de la Renta’s eponymous perfume but I wore it daily for three months when I was sixteen because my mom gave it to me. That was as good a reason as any to wear a scent, even a despised scent. But RL Safari was a solid love affair. Nothing could ever replace my beloved scent. Nothing.

I’m trying to get back into my fifteen-year-old self’s headspace to understand what it was that made Safari so irresistible. My fifteen-year-old friends were wearing Liz Claibourn, Tresor, or Sunflowers. I was a wallflower whose perfume made her stick out like a clichéd sore thumb. I carried my cut glass trophy of a scent everywhere I went, and boy, was that bottle heavy. I refreshed my scent often, which was absolutely not necessary. Often, I smelled of Safari even after showers. Our love was solid. But why?

It was the last of the big-boned broads from the late 1980s/early 1990s. Safari was not as obtrusive as its contemporaries (I’m looking at you, Red Door) but it was not demure, per se. Safari was bold but it was also tempered with green elements, like oakmoss and vetiver. It did not feature prominent roses or jasmine; they are present but lurking in—not dominating—the scent. Instead, new and unorthodox flowers were presented to star in this show. In a word, Safari smelled new. To smell it now, it smells kind of dated.

I never answered WHY. I loved its quirky personality and its greenness. I loved its status as a perfume outcast, for I was an awkward outcast, too. It was light years away from what every girl in high school was wearing. It was smart and sophisticated, or at least what I imagined smart and sophisticated women wore while reading Kafka for pleasure’s sake. Safari represented the woman I aspired to become. Safari still smells like that to me.

I’m spending a little time with Safari because many loves have come between us. It feels an awful lot like seeing a high school boyfriend some twenty-five years later while you’re shopping for tomatoes with your current beau. It is awkward and confusing but you might remember what it was that caused you butterflies some twenty-five years ago. Or you might scratch your head and wonder what all the fuss was about. I’m recalling the butterflies and the love letters of years past. However, I’ve moved on. I’m happier snuggling up to my Guerlains and my Tauers. But Safari taught me how to love and appreciate what’s beautiful and unique in the (perfume) world. For that reason we’ll continue to catch up every so often for a platonic date. We will then part ways until next time.

8 Awards
I’ve had a few weeks to spend cozying up to Chergui. The reviews and various online forum opinions are so polarizing. To be frank, the notes are a bit intimidating. I was at once curious and trepidatious about trying Chergui. However, nothing beats testing perfume to skin. And how glad I was!

My grandmother used to smoke clove cigarettes. Though I maintain smoking is an unattractive habit, I loved the scent of my grandma’s cigarettes. They were mildly sweet and smoky, even when unlit. There was an exotic spiciness to her pack of smokes that I found most intoxicating. Chergui is sweet, spicy, and hearty, much in the same fashion as my grandmother’s cigarettes. I should resent the scent since a lifetime of smoking contributed to her passing, but it actually feels very comforting. I am taken back to a time when my grandma and I would sit at her kitchen table and talk; she would refrain from smoking around me but I could still smell the pack of cigarettes she stowed away in her shirt pocket.

A familiar scent without the carcinogenic element? Yes please! I don’t get the strong hay but I do pick up the honeyed tobacco. I did not think I could love this so much but I do. Who on earth wants to smell like honey-sweet unlit clove cigarettes? Uh, I do!

3 Awards
Covarrubias has a gift. He even has a cult following due to his much-admired Chocolate Wasted. I haven’t tried CW but I blind bought two bottles of Cheat Day. After three days of obsessively wearing CD I can say with certainty that I have been indoctrinated into the cult of Covarrubias.

Cheat Day looks far simpler than it is. Yes, it’s a Neapolitan-scented gourmand but it is so much more sophisticated than that. CD is to Neapolitan ice cream what Kyse Perfumes’ Oui Plus is to S’mores. Both employ a dark roasted coffee to ground the candy-like elements; here, the dark coffee notes boost the dark chocolate and elevate the other confections by cutting their sweetness. Musk acts as a subliminal note to distinguish this as a perfume and not a mish-mash of candy flavorings. All in all, I think fans of Oui Plus would have been equally as smitten with Cheat Day.

Would have been, you say!? I don’t know if Covarrubias has decided to close up shop temporarily or if the closure is permanent. I hope the closure is the former and not the latter. There is magic in this creation. CD is a confectionary perfume but it stands head, shoulders, and torso above the average mass marketed gourmand being churned out these days. I believe this is a must-have for any gourmand enthusiast should Covarrubias decide to produce this again. I promise you, it’s that good.

5 Awards
“Perhaps” was a different kind of mainstream scent back in 1997. By today's standards it is still clumsily unique in its own way in context of its time. It somehow got trapped in the transition between the late 1980s powerhouse florientals and the soft fruity-floral “slacker” scents of the late 1990s.

It begins with a mentholated fruity slap. I don’t see mint listed but there is a bracingly cold blast of mint flying below the radar, underneath the scent of canned peaches. The same peaches that graced Tresor, Tuscany Per Donna, and Liz Claiborne’s Liz made one last appearance here, subconsciously creating a time stamp that will forever read 1990s floriental. If one can find pleasure in the former listed fragrances’ peaches, then the latter’s peaches should present no problems. Given a few minutes the peaches share space with freesia and mimosa, giving this a very bright, yellow-floral scent that lingers for a very long time. The sunny yellow bouquet seems to be an attempt to mimic its more subdued contemporaries, such as Volupte, Happy, Sunflowers, and CK One. It’s nice but it creates confusion—is this going the way of a bang or a whimper?

The drydown turns to a typical 1990s floriental musky powderbomb. Again, nice but nothing new, if not downright confused. There are plenty of generic fruits, flowers, and amber. The juice’s duration is incredibly long-lasting, typical of that era’s fragrances (and a sorely missed characteristic in many fragrances produced nowadays). Sillage is tastefully strong enough and projection is just loud enough to let others you are wearing a bad-girl-gone-good.

I owned, then swapped away, a vintage bottle which smells exactly as I remembered. I was not over-the-moon with this one back in 1997 and I am still not completely in love some twenty years later. However, I do have a greater appreciation for this one, looking at it through “graduation goggles,” where former stinkers and powderbomb offenders are at once forgiven for past transgressions. You could do worse, but then you could do better.

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