Fragrance Throwdown: the Berry-Vanilla Gourmands Duke It Out

I’ve been saying for MONTHS now that Bath & Body Works Dark Kiss reminds me of Hanae Mori “Butterfly.”  Finally I got busy and did the comparison, so here are the blow-by-blow details…

Hanae Mori “Butterfly” (edt and parfum)

Notes: Blackcurrant, wild strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, peony, sandalwood, Virginia cedar, Brazilian rosewood, almond tree. Composed by Bernard Ellena. Given a four-star rating in P:TG. Tania Sanchez’ review says, in part, “terrifically trashy cotton-candy idea lifted straight from [L’Artisan] Vanilia… cheerfully bright berry notes… in a classic woody-floral setting… a bombshell gourmand, incredibly rich and strong…” Continue reading Fragrance Throwdown: the Berry-Vanilla Gourmands Duke It Out

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Tuberose Series 7: Bath and Body Works Velvet Tuberose

Chiefly remembered by me as the unlikely gateway drug to my new addiction, as in, “Boy, this stuff is great! I’d forgotten how much I used to like perfume… Now that we’re not pinching every dime, wonder what else is out there?” Finding out What Else Is Out There led me to Now Smell This, and I was hooked.

Perfume Review: Bath and Body Works Velvet Tuberose
Release date: 2007
Perfumer: Who Nose?
Sample provenance: my 50ml bottle, purchased in August 2008 from BBW store (it cost me all of $13.75 on sale, and if your tastes are decidedly upscale, you might decide you’ve read all you need to know). I think the packaging has changed for this scent, although the new tester bottle I smelled a few weeks ago smelled like my own bottle, which looks like the one pictured above.

Subcategory: Gentle white floral with tuberose

Okay, okay, okay… by now, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a cheapskate perfumista, if there can be such a thing. I really struggle with the price schedule of certain houses I’d otherwise like to try (Amouage, MDCI, By Kilian) and simply cross other houses completely off my list because they seem like poor value to me (too many to enumerate). I have never paid full retail price for a bottle of anything. Online discounters are my friends. And of course I’m a suckah for eBay.

It wasn’t always this way. Used to be, I’d scrape together babysitting money, or pizza money when I was in college, and troll the drugstore aisles for sent-bons. I discovered Bath and Body Works at about the time I started dating The CEO, and was devoted to their old Freesia body products. (NB: I miss Freesia, by the way. Sheer Freesia is what they’re selling now, and it’s not at all the same; it’s missing something – I think a muguet note.)

True Story Digression: The CEO used to call up the company where I worked, using the pseudonym “Scott Preston, of Preston Enterprises in Charlotte, NC,” and ask to speak to Miss Muse in Accounting, an amusing little subterfuge that probably fooled no one.

In any case, in August of 2008, I made my way to the B&BW at the mall to pick up some Lavender Vanilla lotion from the Aromatherapy line for my sister’s birthday. While I was there, I wandered around desultorily sniffing things, and came across VT. Before I knew it, I had bought a bottle. I wore it almost exclusively for several months… and aprés Velvet Tuberose, le déluge.

It is a rather sheer tuberose. I know, I know, “sheer tuberose” is something of an oxymoron. But still. If you’re expecting some big creamy huge floral thing, you’ll be disappointed in its light weight.

Notes for VT:
T: Magnolia, apricot, citrus, ylang
H: freesia, cyclamen, tuberose, gardenia, fig leaf, jasmine, orchid
B: sandalwood, amber, spice, musk, cashmere woods

The scent opens with just a few minutes’ worth of tangy fruits and creamy but nondescript florals – and don’t worry about that apricot note, it’s barely there. Very quickly, you’re down into the heart of the thing, which blends some fresh florals (freesia, cyclamen, and orchid) with a traditional white floral mix. I’m pleased to say I’ve never noticed that fig leaf, as fig leaf is pretty much a dealbreaker for me, ugh. After a few hours of tuberose-floral blend, VT dries down to a cheap-but-pleasant base of Cashmeran and musk. Amber and spice? No. Sandalwood? Not really, but you can’t expect much from under $15, can you? Turns out, though, I actually like Cashmeran.

In fact, I like VT better than tuberose-centric mainstream scents like Michael Kors, Juicy Couture, and Christina Aguilera Inspire, all of which cost considerably more than VT. It’s another one of those office-friendly tuberose scents: quiet, pleasant, pretty without overpowering the noses of all in the general vicinity. It stays fairly close to my skin, and can be detected within hug range. I still like to put on a spray or two just before bed, and sometimes wear it to work, when I don’t want to have to think about what scent I’m wearing.

The Bottom Line :
Quality        C  Clearly cheap materials, but nicely blended
Grab-scale score:     6.5
Short description:    Tuberose Floral.
Cost:      $
Earns compliments:     Yes, in surprising numbers.
Scent presence:       Slightly better than average (2 spritzes last 5 hours), mild sillage. Will not get you lynched at the office.

Review Report:   Bois de Jasmin (brief mention)

Top image is Velvet Tuberose… by Robert Hughes at flickr.  Lower image is White tuberose by buttersweet at flickr.

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Perfume Review: Bath & Body Works Moonlight Path, Clone No. 3

Okay, today we’re going way downmarket for the review of our next Chanel No. 5 clone: Bath and Body Works Moonlight Path. I’ve long been a customer of B&BW – largely because if I want anything fancier than drugstore body products, they’re it. I do have a few favorites among their offerings: I dearly love their Aromatherapy Orange Ginger lotion, their Velvet Tuberose is a terrific, low-budget Fracas Lite, and I wore the Freesia bath products all during my honeymoon.

On the Late & Lamented List: Freesia is gone. It’s been replaced with Sheer Freesia, which is simple and pretty but lacks the crisp greenness I remember smelling in the old one; I think there may have been some aspect of lily of the valley along with the freesia in the old version. Sigh. Well, I still have some Diorissimo.

My husband’s sister and her husband once gave me some really rich hand cream scented with Moonlight Path for a birthday. I opened it, sniffed and exclaimed, “Chanel No. 5!” My brother-in-law gave me the fish eye, and I hastened to explain that it wasn’t exact, of course – it just reminded me of my mother’s scent. And then I had to explain that I liked No. 5 but didn’t wear it because, well, it was my mother’s scent, “and you know how that is, right?” And then I shut up, because I was Just Making It Worse. (Sorry, K. It was a nice gift you and E. picked out – I used it all up with pleasure, and it smelled nice, and you have good taste. And I love you both. Which you know. Grin.)

So when I began seriously sniffing No. 5 Smell-Alikes, I remembered Moonlight Path, and went back to the Bath and Body Works store at the mall to retest it. It’s not as close to the icon as Mariella Burani is, and even farther away than Eau Premiere, but it does echo some of the facets of No. 5, particularly the powdery aspects.

Here are the notes for Moonlight Path:
Top: Bergamot, lavender, mandarin, coriander
Heart: Rose, jasmine, violet, tuberose, ylang, lily of the valley
Base: Sandalwood, vetiver, oakmoss, vanilla, amber, musk, patchouli

I never smell the lavender in Moonlight Path, which is probably a good thing, lavender being an un-favorite of mine. The congruencies of notes between the two scents include bergamot, rose, jasmine, ylang, lily of the valley, and all the base notes. Indeed, it’s the drydown of MP that reminds me most of No. 5, and since MP is fairly light, it’s the drydown that I spend the most time in while wearing it. I do smell that rose-jasmine-ylang-LotV combo that is such a pleasant part of No. 5 for me, and that’s enjoyable in Moonlight Path, but sadly, it doesn’t last very long here. It is powdery.  Very powdery.  Intensely powdery, even – and I’m not all that big a fan of powder. The list of basenotes sounds more complex than it actually is in Moonlight Path, contrasted directly with No. 5’s rich and shimmery sandalwood and musk base.

It’s perfectly nice. But powdery, you know… and if you like that kind of thing, the body products might layer very nicely (and, um, cheaply, if you care) with No. 5.

Top image: Moonlight Path body butter at B&BW; bottom image is Fillable Puff Patter with Powder at ebay, which my late grandmother would have absolutely adored.  She’d have bought one for every woman she knew, bless her heart.

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