Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pier One

So I went to Pier One today cuz I gotta smell all the new xmas shizz. Damn, what a disappointment. I seem to remember that once upon a time Pier One had maybe a cool scent here and there, but now I'm wondering whether I've been mistaken the whole time. Didn't they have a great foliage scent once? Anyway, I was smelling their new Christmas stuff, and it's a wreck. The whole store is a wreck, in scent terms anyway. There were about 8 different names for Christmas scents, most of which weren't even available to smell. But really, how different could they smell? Christmas scents pretty much always have the same accords--citrus-spice, cranberry-citrus or spice, fir balsam. They're so ingrained that if you look for applications for certain raw materials, sometimes "Christmas blends" will come up. Anyway, no one seems to do all that much around these themes--the evergreen smells are pretty standard and decorated either with cinnamon or cranberry notes. The citrus spice and cranberry notes are similarly joined. And sometimes someone tries to throw them all together, but that seldom works. Oh, and there's the very predictable evergreen-cedar combination that seems to sell, but for the life of me I can't understand why. Cedar can smell like saunas, hamster cages and sometimes vaguely woody notes, but it doesn't evoke Christmas for me. I would like to see more of the evergreen-firewood accord, and maybe someone could do more with a cinnamon-tonka blend, since cassia cinnamon is so high in coumarin. Or more of a spiced plum accord. OR, if you're going for that "sparkling pine" type scent, why not combine evergreen with fresh crisp green notes or ozonic notes, as opposed to peppermint? I mean, wouldn't pine/ozone work better? Of course, when you're talking about combining crisp green with evergreen, you do run the risk of coming up with a smell that evokes Chinese food. The Body Shop had one a few Christmases ago that smelled like that.

Anyway, back to Pier One. So firstly, they had about 8 different "Holiday This or That" smells, but they probably revolved around only 2 accords. Then I went to the other candles. ....When did Pier One start selling Yankee Candle and White Barn candles? Odd. Anyway, those were no better. It's like they decided that they just wanted to sell what everyone will buy instead of something interesting. Secondly, there's no secondly, so I don't know why I said firstly there. Going on to thirdsley.... So when I was looking at the regular candles I came across one called Vanilla Tonka. Great, I thought, something cheap and easy (just plop vanillin and coumarin together, right?); it should smell good. Well, I think it was misnamed. Instead of Vanilla Tonka, perhaps it should've been called something like "Caramel Furanone 1%."

So yeah. That was my visit to Pier One. Totally disappointing.

But if you'd like to know where to get the GOOD Christmas smells, I'll tell you:
There aren't any.
Seriously, there really aren't. There's nothing particularly innovative out there, even at the upper price ranges. There is ONE Christmas scent that I distinctly like, and I buy it every year: Crabtree and Evelyn's Noel. Now, there should be an umlaut there, and I think that most of what they do is kinda old-fashioned and heavy-handed (with the exception of that Island scent they have out now. It's not a perfect scent, but it's very pretty. It's citrusy enough that I would consider using it, even though it's kinda feminine. But it's nice. In the vein of, but not as lush as, Beyond Paradise. Hmmm, I hope I didn't commit heresy by saying that), I do quite like Noel. I read it as an evergreen smell with a very dominant drydown of frankincense. There's some citrus and cranberry in there too, I believe, but really, it's the frankincense that's the star. It's very nice, and refreshingly strong--both diffusive and long-lasting. Be careful if you buy it, though: don't store it with the dropper on. The oil will eat through the rubber. Store it with the cap. Now how does the oil eat through it? Dunno. Not sure if it's something in the scent or in the diluent, but I've seen it happen with one other C&E scent, also with that frankincense base. Anyway, I totally endorse this Christmas scent. Most of the others are pretty interchangeable. I like the candle and wax tart versions of Christmas Wreath by Yankee Candle, but it doesn't smell exactly right in it's other iterations, namely the plug-in, the oil and the car thing.


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