Thursday, October 13, 2011

Two Perfumed Fails and a Win: A Rambling Adventure into Mainstream Fragrance-land!

Recently, a dear friend who understands my fragrance addiction gifted me with some samples of department store fragranced I had been eager to try. I have admittedly been falling behind on keeping up with the mainstream fragrance releases as I fall rapidly more and more in love with indie and niche fragrance lines. Still, all of the buzz that I was hearing about the three fragrances I will discuss below just made me have to try them. Susan, I am grateful for your gift! 
Now, as the title of this post states, two of these fragrances were just huge failures for me, and one was a surprising hit. Rather than ramble on and on about each fragrance, I thought it’d be more fun for me to do short little mini-reviews of each and explain why they were hits or misses. Credit for the idea is due to darling Carrie, and her new Mini Mondays series (I do wish I thought of this first!). If you haven’t checked out her blog, I really recommend it; she has been a real guiding force for me! 

Day One: Jo Malone Wild Bluebell
(picture courtesy of the Jo Malone website)

Oh, Jo Malone, Jo Malone, Jo Malone! How I used to love you, years ago. Red Roses and Orange Blossom carried me through many days, and I remain grateful for the love we once shared. However, in the past few years, none of your releases have excited me. Everything smelled “off” and just...not very pleasant. Still, when Wild Bluebell was released, the collective cry of excitement in the blogosphere made me curious. Besides, I quite enjoy Lily of the Valley. 
I should have known I’d hate you. The scent of Lily of the Valley cannot be distilled naturally, and my nose has become accustomed to naturals. Synthetics aren’t often my friend these days. When I sprayed you, I instantly recoiled. It was as if I had been slapped or punched, my reaction was so strong. You smelled like cheap fabric softener. So harsh and synthetic you were, I was rendered unable to even distinguish a single note from the muddled mess on my skin. I wished I could shower you off, but Thirsty Thursday called, and in the scheme of things, enough frozen mojitos would dull my senses enough that I’d be unable to smell you. It took seven hours of booze for you to fade into ozone-y nothingness. The hangover was not worth it.
*Cool side note - the PHENOMENAL Victoria of Bois de Jasmin had the same reaction, sans the mojito spree (I think?). She also smelled cheap fabric softener!
Day Two: Givenchy Dahlia Noir
(picture courtesy of

I have fond memories of Givenchy fragrances. My mom used to hoard L’Interdit when I was a small bun-bun, and as a present for starting high school she gifted me with a bottle of Hot Couture (which I am somewhat ashamed to say I still enjoy). With this in mind, I was curious about Dahlia Noir. Carrie’s Mini Monday review of the fragrance further piqued my curiosity, especially with lines like “The roses and aldehydes on opening are reminiscent of a quieter YSL Paris.” - YSL Paris is my weakness! I sprayed myself and took a jaunt to the Museum of Modern Art (hey, it’s free on Fridays!). I proceeded to spend more time at the museum trying to figure out what the heck I was smelling rather than enjoying the (incredible!) de Kooning exhibit. 

Dahlia Noir is supposed to be a fruity floral with a powdery, cozy drydown - something I’d typically enjoy. But no, Dahlia Noir is not what it seems. Dahlia Noir is a big ole’ slap across the face with a watermelon-scented wet wipe (all credit here is due to Victoria of eauMG, who was also testing it the same day and confirmed that I wasn’t crazy for smelling watermelon). I know that there’s a mimosa accord present in this perfume, but I just had...a big slice of watermelon. Eek. Loud, obnoxious, and confusing! The perfume transitioned - slowly, I might add - to a very powdery baby wipe smell. Yes, there was the aldehydic fizziness that’s reminiscent of a wet wipe (y’know, that bright sort of smell only chemicals can provide), combined with a powdery facet that comes from what I believe to be iris and tonka. Uh, yeah. No comment here.
Day Three: Prada Candy
(picture courtesy of

From what I gather, Prada fragrances are very hit-or-miss in the fragrance blog-o-sphere. My “devil on my shoulder” Sheila of Scent Less Sensibilities says that Prada fragrances all “have that hairspray thing” - meaning, they turn into a cloud of Elnett  on her skin. I always feel like the odd one out for my love of Prada Infusion d’Iris - I’ve used two (2!!) bottles of the stuff, and quite like it. So, I was shocked to see the near collective love for Prada Candy upon its arrival (the two dissenting voices I’ve seen thus far: my dear Susan, who sent me the sample, and Sheila, who said in an email to me - god, does this woman write the most fantastic emails! - “it smells like burnt sugar almonds and Elnett and nothing else.”). Once I saw Carrie’s review, I was done for; I knew I’d love it. I just had one issue: I freakin’ hate the bottle. The bottle is so ugly to me: tacky, reminiscent of a door stop, and just too cutesy in its execution. What was I to do if I loved the juice it contained? For this reason, I waited and waited and waited until I could not wait any more to spray myself.
Oh, you can guess what happened: I fell madly in love. I proclaimed it immediately full-bottle worthy, and put out a call for someone to sell me a decant since I just...refuse to have that bottle on my shelf. The more I think about it, though, the more I may be willing to suck it up. This Candy is just too mouthwatering - and ridiculously misnamed. This isn’t a cavity-causing mess of Pink Sugar-ed proportions. This is the luxe cashmere sweater you starved yourself two months for (or maybe that’s just me), the warm embrace of your significant other by a fireplace, the leopard-print Snuggie and bowl of soup (again, maybe that’s just me!). This is a warm caramel custard swirled with benzoin: truly edible and tummy-filling in the way that only the best desserts can be. There’s also a musky aspect to the fragrance, which only serves to amp up the coziness factor: nothing makes me want to snuggle more than a musky gourmand, sigh. It lasted for hours, as did my joy. Yes, I will be purchasing you somehow.
So, have you had any fragranced failures (or successes) lately?

10 love notes:

PerilouslyPale said...

I was surprised to love Prada Candy too! I also hate the bottle. Not only the bottle but the box. I have a sample of Dahlia Noir but after your comments the other day I'm too afraid to try it! LOL

Victoria/EauMG said...

Bluebell - Still have a sample I've yet to try. Not rushing to do it either.

Dahlia Noir - Ditto!
Prada Candy - I love it. Still working on my review. And you're not the lone lover of Infusion d'Iris. I love it.

Joey said...

Christa, we need to get decants of Prada Candy ASAP! Let me know what you think of Dahlia Nori =)

Joey said...

Victoria, uh...try Wild Bluebell at your own risk. Just my two cents =) also, I am glad to know I am not the only lover of Infusion d'Iris! High five! I can't wait to see your review of Prada Candy.

Carrie Meredith said...

Thank you for mentioning me and my blog, doll! I'm glad you love Prada Candy. I actually dig the bottle, a lot. It's "50s Space Age" to me. And by the way, you can use my Mini Mondays idea if you want to! It's a good excuse for not getting way too deeply into reviewing a perfume when you only have a limited amount to say about it. Not everything needs to be a novel, that's what I tell myself. :) xoxo

EngelRoo said...

I think I must have really really strange skin or body chemistry as most Prada scents smell so wonderful on me that nearly everyone I come across follows me across rooms with their nose & asks what I'm wearing (the original 'amber' scent and the Infusion d’Iris in particular)hence my bewilderment at this Elnett/cheap-smelling criticism I find online. For me, they're streets ahead of ANY other major perfume house's offerings to my nose. Caveat: I can't wear ANYTHING with much vanilla - vanilla always smells vile/cheap to me and on me. I hate 'sweet' scents & in fact can wear almost nothing else from the major fragance houses (due to flagrant overuse of vanilla or 'food' notes) other than 'Eau de Givenchy', Chanel Cristalle, Joop femme and Donna Karan Black Cashmere. The only scent 'claiming' to have vanilla that suits me perfectly is Joop Nuit d'Ete (my signature and sadly super hard to obtain). But then by perfume blog standards I'm 'strange'; Donna Karan Black Cashmere is an 'at home' 'comfort scent'. I would TRY Prada Candy on the basis of the benzoin, but the thought that it may be sweet and caramel-ish, and it's name, REALLY put me off. I also, personally, dislike the cheap, commecial-looking bottle. But hey, despite the disparity of taste between me and the bloggers who rave about it, Prada has been good to me, and I WILL try it! ;-)

Joey said...

Carrie, you're very welcome! Any time I can shout you out, I will. <3333

I adore Prada Candy. I'm desperate for a decant; TPC has decants, but they seem a bit overpriced to me. I'll probably just suck it up and cave, though.

As for the Mini Mondays idea, I might just use it for perfumes/makeup items I can't find the time to write essays on =) you are the best! xoxoxo

Joey said...

Hi EngelRoo! Thanks for visiting my blog! =)

I am SO glad to not be alone in my love of Prada scents; I've found most of them to be lovely. I really do need a new bottle of Infusion d'Iris. Also, I love DK Black Cashmere as well; my mom wore it as well.

Now, I'm with you on the abuse of vanilla in mainstream fragrances, although I get more riled up about the overuse of "(insert red berry here) + pink pepper" that I'm seeing everywhere these days. I think vanilla can be used properly, but that it needs to be used creatively. I'm into woody vanillas, or gourmands that border on the bizarre (like Liz Zorn Leather Krem).

Prada Candy is a gourmand for the gourmand hater, I think. It's warm and cozy, and the sweetness is evident but not overbearing. Please let me know what you think! xoxo

Maggie said...

I actually really like the Dahlia Noir...I don't smell anything of which you described.. :/ different noses maybe??

Joey said...

Hello Maggie! Thanks for your comment. I'm so glad you're enjoying the fragrance. I would have liked for it to work on me. How does it smell on you exactly?