I think I may have gotten a little snarky over on Now Smell This recently, where the topic of discussion was Jennifer Aniston’s new perfume, Lolavie. (Edit: the name “Lolavie” was axed after Marc Jacobs’ PR people threatened to sue Aniston if she didn’t change the name to something less like MJ’s Lola. I don’t think anybody would have mixed up the two: Lola is a big sweet floral mess in a tacky bottle, IMO. Lolavie was renamed “Jennifer Aniston” just before its release.) A number of regular commenters opined that although it doesn’t sound like a fruity or sugary scent, it sounded suspiciously like a non-perfume perfume: “clean but sexy” and “floral but not flowery” sure seems an awful lot like Overpriced Nothing in a Bottle to some of us. A commenter who’s relatively new to the blog – and hooray for that, I say! It’s wonderful when new people show up and have a different opinion – commented that clean, floral-soap scents smell terrific to her, and that even if she bathes with scented soap, that light clean fragrance doesn’t last all day, and she’d like her perfume to smell clean and flowery for several hours, thank you.
I said something like, Yes, that’s a very pleasant effect, but there are tons of things out there already that do that. She commented that there isn’t a single fragrance genre that isn’t overrepresented, and she’s glad to see a nice, clean, inoffensive scent coming from Ms. Aniston. She’s probably right on the plethora of everything currently on the market… except there can’t be too many fresh green florals for my taste (go see my ginormous post on green florals if you’re unconvinced). So I apologize for intimating that we don’t need yet another Clean Floral, and I do hope rbrown (her user name at NST) sticks around and joins the fumeheads in commenting – and of course, she’s very welcome here! It’s not often that we all agree on something anyway; quite a number of perfumista faves I just hate (Opium, Bandit, Poison, and Aromatics Elixir come to mind), and I’m unrepentant. You Like What You Like, Period.
So it got me to thinking, how many of us do enjoy scents that smell like you’ve washed with a lovely floral soap? I admit, there are a few I like, although it’s not a genre I’d call a favorite, and I have to be in the mood for “floral soap” or it just annoys me. And my mother, She of No. 5, also likes that effect – just about every scent she’s ever worn has had either a soapy or powdery facet (sometimes both!), so that “floral soap” says, definitively, MOM to me. Mind you, I’m not “above” smelling like soap and flowers. Sometimes you just want to smell like you have recently had a shower; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s very pleasant.
I’m putting up a poll: do you like “floral soap” scents or not?
If you do like floral soap scents, I’d love to know which are your favorites. Here are some fragrances that smell like floral soap to me:
Chanel No. 5 Far more complex than “floral soap,” of course, but it does have elements (the aldehydes, the musks) that remind me of soap.
Cacharel Anais Anais Mom wore this one, too, after her old bottle of No. 5 edc ran low. Sharper and more herbal than No. 5, it nonetheless conjures up a tubful of bubbles for me.
Coty L’Effleur In the “smells like you just bathed with a nice French soap” category, we have a winner. This scent created in the early 90’s and discontinued some years ago, is in my opinion an absolute dead ringer for a lovely hard-milled French soap scented with flowers. Mom wore this for several years, and what she liked about it was precisely that it smelled like good soap.
Alfred Sung Shi Mom recently bought this for my sister, who normally wears Coco Mlle (and who once wore Dune). My sister liked its clean smell. When I commented that I thought it smelled like water (I wasn’t being complimentary), A. said, “Oh, yes! Isn’t that nice? It’s not heavy at all, it’ll be nice for summer.” I shut up then.
Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel Recently I discovered this little-known fragrance (my thanks to Abigail at I Smell Therefore I Am), and it smells to me like nothing so much as line-dried bed linens. This is a smell I absolutely adore. Nothing smells so downright clean and effortlessly wonderful as sheets dried on the line outdoors, especially if hay is being made nearby as it frequently is on our farm. Sheets dried on the clothesline smell like grass, flowers, fresh air, and sunshine – even if you pack them away in the linen closet for awhile. Notes on this fragrance: sweet grasses, hay, linden, violet leaves, rosewood, iris. It’s not exactly Floral Soap, but it does have the Clean + Flowers feeling.
Vintage Lauren by Ralph Lauren. (Don’t bother with the currently-available-at-retail, it’s a bottleful of nothingness.) This scent, in its ruby-colored cube bottle, brings back a lot of memories of college for me, as it was a scent worn by a friend. Notes include: green notes, rose, violet, and oakmoss, and the effect is exactly that of floral-herbal soap. Lovely. I bought a partially-used bottle on ebay for less than $10, and the scent is worth far more than that.
Ivoire de Balmain. I hesitate about including this one, because it’s such a shape-shifter. Starts out with a galbanum blast (not exactly a “floral soap” element) and then moves into a beautiful soap smell. Pretty soon the moss comes to join the soap, and this stage is a bit iffy on me – it only seems to work if the weather’s humid and warm. Eventually, the drydown gets rich and honeyed – back to the floral soap, but with some amber and woods too. The “soap” is dead on, but there’s so much else going on in there that I’m not sure this one really belongs.
(Edit alert! I remembered a couple more soapies.)
Donna Karan Cashmere Mist A heckuva lotta people love this one; it’s a perennial seller, but it’s my personal definition of boooooooring. It’s the epitome of just-out-of-the-bubble-bath, where you poured in a ton of Ivory body wash (which, I admit, I really like, especially Fresh Snow, which I can’t find anymore, sad sad face) and then after drying off, smoothed six layers of really rich body lotion on and spent three hours rubbing it in. Ivory body wash + creamy lotion. I mean, nice, but… gosh. Dull.
Cacharel Noa I once owned a mini bottle of this, which I kept wearing to work before I realized that it might possibly be the reason I kept getting sleepy halfway through the morning. The list of notes is extraordinarily long for a fragrance that smells like a post-bath nap, and I never got the cilantro or coffee that P:TG raved about. TS rhapsodizes in her review that although Noa is quiet, it always seems to have something new to say. To me, it was as if the “something new” was simply the next name in the phone book.
(Subsequent edit, April 4, 2011: ran across another soapy fragrance.)
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphea Ran across this in an airport Duty Free shop, spritzed it on a whim, and immediately decided I was getting my mother a miniature bottle. It’s an orange-blossom soapy thing, quite pleasant. I’m not the only one finding it soapy, either – I’ve seen at least four blog reviews saying the same thing.
Here are a few more that have been recommended by various people as smelling like Floral Soap (I haven’t smelled them myself, and can’t comment on how closely they resemble soap):
Lacoste Pour Femme
Dolce & Gabbana original for women
Philosophy Pure Grace
Bvlgari Petits et Mamans
What do you say?
Image is Lovely green soap and dish from sunshinesyrie at flickr.com.