Monday, February 16, 2009


That stands for "today's sojourn through SoHo." I just have a couple things to say, so I'll be uncharacteristically brief.

Banana Republic's candles are exceptional. I like them all, although it's confusing to me why the one with a name like "Fireside" smells so intensely vanillick. (I'm sorta making up that word cuz I don't know if one says 'vanilla' or 'vanilla-like.' I'm sure if enough people see this post, someone will tell me. They always do.) Shouldn't it smell more like firewood? It's nice, though. And another of them smells woody and smoky. They're to be commended in that they all smell kinda dry, not too sweet. There must've been a temptation to make the Sangria one smell sweetier and fruitier, like an Escada perfume (I look a' thee, Tropical Punch. That said, I used to wear a fake of you, and I got complimented by guys in a grocery store. Hmmm, was I in good shape then? I'd like to think it was the perfume they said smelled great; but hell, it was a gay part of town and I had a toned body a few years back. Whatevz), but they held back and it's fruity-but-not-too-sweet. So their candles rock.

Their fragrances? (Eaux de Toilette, which Comptoir Sud Pacifique call "Eaux de Voyage"--good for you CDP! Sharp and bold. You rock for that. So much for brevity. And coherence. I'll quote the SOV here: "Oh gosh, I'm not posh. I do what I'm doing, yeah.") Not so great. Nothing particularly wrong with them, they're just not up to much. Like, I'd wear Corduroy or Black Walnut, but I'd never, like, pine for them, you know? But the worst is their main one, which I smelled today for the first time in a while. I've been a little interested in their newer ones, and I remember the main one being flimsier, but I tried it again today, as I read the description: "Modern, clean...." There was another word in there, but it seemed like what they were implying was that you'd smell essentially of nothing. Of just "clean." And clean in the way that things are clean in Gattaca. Because really, isn't everyone who shops at BR (and especially Club Monaco and FCUK) trying to live in Gattaca? Anyway, so I sprayed it on, wondering if it would prove to be this amazing cologne that really did smell of modern, clean minimalism; and if so, what kind of layering possibilities could that create? Something that gives you a minimalist clean scent, something between laundry, ozone and stainless steel--you could match that with anything ozonic or aquatic; maybe with green smells or that Marc Jacobs one that's very figgy. Hmmmm, just the smell of cleanliness and simplicity, that would be interesting. So did it smell like that?

No, not at all. It started out with what I guess was a grapefruit smell--something zingy but not in a ginger zingy or a nose-tingling way. Then there was this weird fern(?) or green(?) accord that persisted a while. Then it was all laundry detergent. Which is what I expected initially. Pleasant? No. Interesting? Yes. Because even though it had that green/fern accord, which smells kinda 70s, but they did it light here, which was unexpected, it said NOTHING from start to finish. It had less personality than Clinique's Chemistry. It said absolutely nothing. And if you can appreciate fragrance at all, then you know what I mean. A good fragrance, for the generic you, is one that speaks to you. It could be Stetson Original, Individuel, Polo, CK One, Baldessarini, Gentleman, Equipage, Un Jardin Sur le Nil, 5 O' Clock au Gingembre, or anything. Even Lady Stetson. As long as it says something to you deeply, it's a good scent for you. Maybe not for the rest of us, especially if it's something like, say, Le Male (cuz let's face it--that's LOUD), but it's the best for you. And for the peeps out there who like fragrance (and I guess you wouldn't be on this page if you din't), you know that some scents have something to say, some have more to say, and you don't necessarily have to like them to say that; but there are also scents that say nothing. And this BR one falls into that category.

I think it's amazingly ironic that it bills itself of smelling like nothing but clean and tries to do so by communicating nothing. If the description were the perfume brief, and they had a talented perfumer, I'm sure that it could smell like that--there's new scent tech coming out all the time; what they can do with raw materials now is astounding. But alas, it only could've been. (They're playing some love song written to the tune of Greensleeves on the radio now. It's distracting. And it's really crappy. How fitting.)

So that was BR. I also sniffed some scents at French Connection UK. I went in there specifically to try to bribe a cashier to steal one of the mannequin wigs for me. Because they're cool, and if one fit, I'd shave my head and wear it all the time. I smelled their two fragrances, which were bland and terribly preictable. The first was this one that was supposed to smell really fresh, but smelled really HARSH like Demeter's Gin & Tonic, but with a lemon note. I tried to like it, but it was gross. The other was better, but so forgettable that I don't recall it, except I remember them telling me it was the "more masculine" of the scents, which were both "technically unisex." Yeah, that technically unisex thing is huge--right now, the trend at the expensive houses is to make everything unisex, which makes sense from an artistic standpoint, and if it could make florals more acceptable for men, which would be awesome. But it'll never work in the US at least. Because the companies know that they can keep Americans convinced they have to wear their own "gender" of scent, and that's a scent strategy that potentially doubles your consumers. God help us, Gaultier is trying to introduce makeup for men, and please cod, let this never take on. Just my personal bits: 1) It's so nice to NOT have to wear something more. I mean, now everyone's getting manicures and pedicures and shaving this and trimming that.... who needs one more thing you have to do? 2) Honestly, most women can't put on makeup. So let's not make men try and have more dumb-looking faces out there. If you can't wear makeup, girls, don't wear it. You'll probably look better without it--no woman NEEDS to put on lipstick and eyeliner to look presentable. 3) I'm sure men wearing makeup would look like men who get their eyebrows waxed: ghastly. Now granted, someone from Los Angeles told me the other day that those are only the men with the bad wax jobs. The ones with the good wax jobs, you can't tell. But finding a good eyebrow waxer seems like it would be as difficult as finding someone who can take your dark brown-with-gray hair up to when-I-was-23 light brown with NO orange. In other words, damn forking hard. So I'll pass on the whole eyebrow waxing thing. For the record, though, I've been known to put on makeup for occasions--like do the whole raccoon-eye thing on Halloween or New Years' Eve or shit (see above); but not for everyday.

That was FCUK. I stop into Mont Blanc to smell some Presence, because I like the way it smells. The person behind the counter, who I really wanted to talk about the cologne with (without him thinking I was hitting on him), didn't seem to want to engage. Or maybe didn't know anything about the colognes, which I think may have been the case, since he called Individuel a "day fragrance" (IIRC, the shite smells like electric neon raspberry-strawberry, the olfactory equivalent of staring into a pink eclipse) and said that his other main fragrance is Le Male. OK, that's all I needed to hear. It was like when that chick who sells tickets at Angelika told me that that STUPID Woody Allen movie, Rebekah and Clairemooneydoo's Most Awesome Barcelona Adventure, was a "good movie," like "Woody Allen grows up." She was serious, incidentally; if she's in college, she hasn't met the "older man who's doing well" yet who will date her and hopefully teach her a bit about culture. (No, I'm not old enough yet to be that guy. He has to be in his 40s and have more gray in his hair.) Oh, and Presence is discontinued. So I left.

And I only mentioned Club Monaco because they had an awesome orange belt that I wondered if I should buy. I mean, I AM orange, right? Oughn't I to own the perfect shade of orange belt? Unfortunately, it was one of those wire ones that you have to tie, and I can't figure those out. Fortunately, I'm just fat enough to never need to worry about people seeing my belt, because I wear all my shirts untucked. Thanks cod that is doable these days. In the 50s, they'd ship you off to a leper colony if you went around with your shirt untucked.

Then I bopped in Sephora. Damn, that place is such a disappointment these days. The word naff comes to mind, even though I hate the concept behind that word. There are only three men's scents I'd spray in that store: Polo, Eau d'Orange Verte or maybe Baldessarini del Mar, and that Prada one that smells of orris, which is an impressive scent to me, because when I'd first smelled Prada I declared it all shite, and my mom wears Prada occasionally, and I absolutely detest the smell of it. I may just get her some Beyond Paradise or Burberrry London for her birthday. Hmmmm, maybe I should get a scent that's xmas-appropriate, though, if she's going to wear it when I'm down at xmas. Then again, that may not make any difference--she was wearing Pleasures Intense at xmas. That's nothing near an xmas scent. It's a finnocking good scent, though. I wish my mom wore more Esteee. ANYWAY.... You can't find estee lauder in Sephora, there's so much else you can't find. It's just a huge storehouse for dreck. Sure, they have Opium and some Chanel stuff (blech), but almost all of it is the new JLo or the Escada-of-the-month or whatever Calvin Kliein or Armani is out now. You used to be able to go in there and smell such a wide range of things, from ancient ones to totally modern; now it's like a bigger, more expensive KMart cosmetics department. Such a shame. But while I was in there, I checked out the new version of Happy--who can keep up with how many anorexic versions of that polyanna scent they come out with?!--and guess what? It's not unpleasant. There you have it. Then I sprayed Burberry London on a strip--I love that stuff. So floral, almost berry-like. It almost smells like actual flowers some time when you smell the strip. I have to buy that for someone one day. Then I smelled Chanel No 5 to see how it compared with the Burberry---still hate it. Then I smelled Un Jardin Sur le Nil again, and everytime I smell it, I like it more. It's really great for a unisex fragrance--fruity but dry, a little earthy and "vegetal." A roommate of mine wanted to buy it once, but didn't because it was in the "women's" section in Sephora. Ugh. And Hermes calls it unisex, so who is Sephora to classify it like that?! Same with Eau de Cartier--the original formulation is in the women's section, the "concontree" is in the men's. I guess the concentree is probably a more traditionally masculine variation on it, rather than a more concentrated version. Canny of Cartier to do it like that--disappointing, but canny.

And that was the last of the smells. Oh wait, I ambled into Fresh for a while, but I just hate that place. It's all crap except the cucumber one. The Milk scent COULD be something good, but how would we know? It doesn't come in a spray, and it's too hard to get what it would smell like as a cologne by smelling the soap. The Tobacco Caramel scent is a disgrace. How hard could creating something called Tobacco Caramel be? I'll tell you: not hard at all. You just plop together some variation on coumarin and you have tobacco (some of the most expensive "tobacco" scents I've smelled, and I mean EXPENSIVE, smelled just like tonka and nothing more; so you can just put something comarinick in something and get a tobacco note; if you're feeling ambitious, you could combine coumarin with myrrh resinoid, like I've seen advised on a fragrance page) and then any of the accords available to suggest caramel. Hell, a few entries ago I discussed caramel furanone, which is supposed to create a carmel/maple note in extreme dilution. So how is it that their Tobacco Caramel smells nothing like tobacco or caramel? I think it smelled like the crappy, hamstery part of Atlas Cedar. Basically, it offended my nose. If you want something from Fresh, buy the Cucumber Baie. It's bearable. If you like lemon, you might like their Sugar scent (why isn't it called "lemon sugar"?).

OK, so THAT is the TStS beep for today.


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