Monday, October 25, 2004

Weekend Update

This weekend I found myself at Bath & Body Works, and was pleased to see that they have some new stuff there. I looked at their holiday scents for this year and a line of mostly body products they have called Tutti Dolce.

Their holiday line is called The Perfect Christmas. It includes candles, sprays and assorted decorations. The scents include Tree, Winterberry, Christmas Cookie and Spice (at least I think those are the names; the web site only has Tree). They're all pleasant, but there might be better scents out there this year. Tree was nice, but heavy on the cedar - I'm sure I could find a better pine scent. Winterberry was the most interesting - the typical berry note, but seemingly with coniferous tone, like a piney Christmas-tree type smell with a berry like note behind it. I might actually get that one. Christmas Cookie and Spice are both pretty predictable, with Christmas Cookie being the more pleasant of the two.

The Tutti Dolce line is basically a line of gourmand scents and body products. All of the scents are dessert scents (probably inspired by Jessica Simpson's Desserts line). They're all pleasant. The scents are as follows: Crème Brûlée, Lemon Meringue, Sugar Wafer, Angel Food Cake, Cinnamon Frosting and Chocolate Fondue. My favorites were Angel Food Cake and Cinnamon Frosting (even though I don't think I detected any cinnamon in the latter; that and the fact that they smelled much the same, with Lemon Meringue standing out from the rest). Sugar Wafer was the only one available in an eau de toilette, as far as I could tell. The scent from the creams, which are very rich, stayed on my hand for some time, but it didn't smell as rich and gourmand-y on my skin as it did in the jar. I think that if you like a subtle, light foody scent, then you'd probably like this line.

Incidentally, as I was writing this I clicked on Bath & Body Works' web site to check on the names of the lines, and was surprised to see a couple lines of products that I did NOT see in the store: Most importantly, the Jeff Leatham line of candles. It must not have been at the store I visited yet (Broadway & 4th, I think). I'd really like to smell those candles, though, because the names and descriptions look quite interesting: Green Carnation, White Arum, Lotus Fruit... They look great, and their packaging implies that they're meant to be of the same quality of the Henri Bendel candles and BBW sells, which are spectacular; moreover, the scent descriptions imply that they're complext blends. So I can't wait to see that line. I'd also like to see the Henri Bendel body collection, which I didn't see at the store. I wonder if the scents come off as good as the candle line. Another line on the web site that I don't recall seeing at the store was the True Temptations candle collection (although the name sounds familiar. From the looks of it, just another line of food scents, but sometimes those can be good. Scents like Butterscotch Icing and Cinnamon Coffee make it sound tempting indeed.

Another place I dropped into over the weekend was Pottery Barn, where I smelled their scents. Since I haven't been there in forever, I don't know if anything is actually new. I know, however, that I've seen Citrus Cassis and Paperwhite before, and I love them both. This time around I also saw Fresh Cut, which I quite like (I think it had notes of lime, cilantro and grass, if I remember coreectly), and Cranberry Spice, which was simply wonderful. In fact it might be the holiday scent to use this year. It even seemed to have pine notes in it, which makes me wonder whether I simply am smelling pine notes in all these cranberry fragrances. (I don't think so, because I don't get that tone from The Body Shop's Cranberry oil, which I love too--it's a very deep cranberry smell, and seems to have notes of grape in it. It's much better than most cranberry scents I've smelled.) I may decide to get the Cranberry Spice candle--my roommate had one of their candles before - Moon Grass - and it proved, unpleasantly, to be very strond and effusive; so I have high hopes for the Cranberry Spice as well.

And that's the scent Beep for today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Invent Your Scent at the Body Shop

I was at the Body Shop the other day, checking to see if there's anything new out, and there is. On the home fragrance oil front, I noticed two scents I hadn't before: their version of holiday pine, which I wasn't sure would work in my Christmas fragrance aesthetic, and chocolate orange. The chocolate orange is pleasant. I would have liked to see how it evaporated, though, and they had no scent strips at this particular Body Shop. Chocolate scents can be problematic: I've had a couple oils before that smelled initially like Milky Way or cocoa, but upon burning they collapsed into a smell that perfectly reproduced pipe tobacco. A very pleasant smell, but also a very unchocolatey smell. I never got Body Shop's old chocolate oil (except for their chocolate mint perfume oil once--it doesn't last long enough on the body, but it does pretty exactly reproduce the aroma of Thin Mints), but it always seemed to perform well in the store. I have high expectations for this chocolate orange oil, even if I don't buy it for myself. The bath & body products didn't smell as luxurious as the home fragrance oil. As for the pine, it was largely unremarkable, and I couldn't decide whether it was close enough to a Christmas-tree smell to merit using during the holidays. I'll have to smell it again, but usually when a scent doesn't register immediately, it's a bad sign.

When I finished looking at the oils, I didn't expect to find anything new, but I looked around anyway. Sure enough, there was something new, and I found it exciting. What I found was a new line from them called (I think) Invent Your Scent. It's nine light scents in different colors to match different moods. The idea is to mix together different fragrances to create your own unique one, or one to match your mood at the time. The marketing material even gives you a 'grid' that describes the 'character' of each of the color scents. Citrella, the yellow scent, is "innocent, sassy, free-spirit, seductive and zesty." Beleaf is "enchanting"--so is Velique. Both Aztique and Zanzibar are "wild." The card also lists some of their "favorite combinations," ones that don't immediately come to mind as complements. One of their choices is Beleaf (a leafy green one) with Amorito (a gourmandy one): they describe it as 'captivating,' noting that it's: "Graceful and irresistible, you'll be the focus of everyone's attention." They sell the different scents individually in small bottles (I think they were an ounce or less; I didn't think to check), or you can buy all nine in a packet of what amount to trial sizes. The later seems like the more prudent option if one is really going to blend them like the company would like.

First off I must say that the whole color thing reminds me of something that I think Clinique did back in the 80s, when they had a line of different color scents out with the same idea: to match a color to your mood or personality. I don't think the different colors had names, though: I think they were just called 'purple' and 'green,' etc. The line must not have done well, because it didn't last for long. I always liked the idea, however, and I remember being sad to see it go, because the character of those fragrances was different from perfume and cologne--it seemed lighter, more versatile, more something that regular scent wasn't.

The Body Shop scents seem to have the same light, unperfume character. I smelled all but Citrella, because it wasn't set out, and they all were pleasant, relatively light, naïve and unimposing. But they shouldn't be too imposing if they're intended to be mixed. My favorite far and away is Beleaf, because it has this great green-leaf, foliage smell that stays remakably consistent, although I thought I was detecting a geranium-like note as it dried down. I'll prolly buy that one, because I love that green foliage note. I also found that I liked Minteva--it opens with this fresh, salad-greens mint note that unfolds a little bit into that anise-like note that you sometimes smell in basil-type scents. Aztique is pretty generic: not very memorable, apparently, because I can only attempt to describe it by saying it's light floral-fruity. Amorito is a gourmandy scent: vanillic, maybe nutty and cocoa-y; a predictable inclusion. Velique didn't make much of an impression; it's described as floral and romantic. Zinzibar, described as spicy and chic, stays true to it's name: it's heavy on the ginger (which I find amusing, as ginger's scientific name is zingiber). Chymara is their musky/sexy scent, and Altaro is the oriental, and it struck me as woody and vanillic.

A few things I like about this line: I like the colorful marketing card and the different colors of the bottles. I like the name: Invent Your Scent. I like some of the language--with words like 'sassy' it's clearly targeting young women. I also like the idea of wearing a fragrance to match one's mood. I think it's a valid way to wear fragrance. (It's not the only one--you could wear one signature scent; you could wear scents strictly seasonally...) I rotate colognes according to my mood, although I usually like something more complex than what's in these, and more subtle (I find Cartier fragrances to be good 'moody' fragrances; they often reflect for me subtle shades of feeling, if that makes any sense; and if you're not into fragrances it surely doesn't). I find it interesting that the Body Shop actually TELLS the customer what fragrance fits which mood (on their 'grid')--I would think that people could figure that out on their own. I also like the fact that they give the customer blending suggestions. There's nothing about the line that leaps out at me as something I DON'T like--I think it's a really well put-together line for who it's targeting. It would be intriguing to see if they'd do a mens line, but they wouldn't, cux it likely wouldn't sell. Young men don't have the same attitudes toward fragrance as young women. Will the line succeed? I don't really think so. I get the feeling that part of the idea behind it is that people will buy more of this line because they want to mix and match and create 'unique' blends. I don't really see it. I could see people buying them for a little while, but not more than 2 and not for very long. Also, I don't think that when most people smell Beleaf, say, that they smell something 'innocent' or 'enchanting.' I think they're going to say 'That smells like leaves.' I think people are going to pick one or two of the fragrances they like and stick with those, if they buy the line at all. I can't see someone buying Amorito AND Beleaf, like the marketing card suggests. Those scents are very different and would seem to appeal to different people (then again, that's probably the point of recommending them together). Of course, that's just my 2 cents. I'd love to see the line succeed--I'd love to see what comes out of it.

And that's the fragrance beep for now.

Monday, October 18, 2004


I was at Sephora the other day and gave Curious by Britney Spears another sniff. I'd smelled it a coupla weeks ago when it came in some Macy's catalog, but I decided to smell it again in another context.

It's an OK perfume, if not exactly dazzling. To me it smells quite a bit like Carolina Herrera at first, but without the musky drydown. It seems to start out velvety with a faint hint of cassis or something berry-like, almost cotton candyish. It does have a magnolia tone to it as well, which if I remember correctly becomes more pronounced as it dries down. All in all the scent is pleasant but not ecstatic, and I still can't really place the situation which would be appropriate for wearing it. A spring day? To me it smelled like what it presumably is: a scent for teenage girls to wear to school and the prom.

Not much else in fragrance has caught my eye recently. I can mention that Renuzit has some holiday scents out in that cone air-freshener that they do. The usual suspects: a cranberry type and a pine type. But this year there's also a fresh-baked type, which I think is called vanilla cookie. It's nothing to get excited about. (Crabtree & Evelyn's Patisserie was something to get excited about, at least when it was still available in a spray, which would smell fatty and almost rancid when you first sprayed it but a few seconds later would smell like cake or Belgian waffles. Now it's available only in a candle, I think. If you want that Belgian waflle smell, though, get the plug-in from AirWick called Grandma's Cookies. It's amazing--it really does smell like Belgian Waffles, and it's STRONG as well--actually a little too strong, because it has a high note that's piercing and almost makes your nose hurt, but if it's diluted enough it smells unparalleled. AirWick really got it right with that one.) It smells like buttery vanilla, heavy on the buttery. I imagine it might work well as a complement to another vanilla-type smell, perhaps Kitchen Spice from Bath & Body Works, but it isn't up to enough on its own.

And that's my scent beep for now.