Perfume Review: Escada Margaretha Ley

Here I am again with a totally useless review of a discontinued fragrance. I apologize in advance.

marg leyLike I said, this one’s gone.  There is some confusion in my mind as to whether Margaretha Ley (the founder of the Escada brand, now deceased) and Escada Escada (original) are the same fragrance. Some sources say yes, some say they’re slightly different. The packaging was slightly different as well, and judging from the notes list on Fragrantica, they’re pretty close in smell.

In any case, this is a powerhouse. Fragrances based on tuberose or jasmine often are, which you probably know, and if you’re sensitive to Big White Florals, you’ve certainly been bludgeoned by someone’s Fracas or Dior Poison or (common in my area) Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds.

(HEY. White Diamonds in parfum, dabbed delicately, is really lovely. But I’ve smelled it overapplied, too, and it can be quite nausea-inducing – and I really like BWFs.)

What’s immediately apparent with one half-spritz of Margaretha Ley is jasmine. And coconut. And ylang-ylang. You’ve got all the creamy aspects of BWFs – I swear there’s some tuberose in here too – as well as lactonic milky  stuff like coconut and peach. There is also some noticeable vanilla and spicy notes – clove, I think.  Hyacinth is in the notes, but I am not picking up on the metallic aspect of hyacinth, more just the spicy floral part. The entire thing is quite sweet, though not on the level of, for example, the gorgeously rich Prada Candy.

The only other scent this really reminds me of is the old Diane von Furstenberg Tatiana. Don’t bother trying it now, it is a chemical mess, but back in the day, when I was in college*, it was really lovely. The spicy notes were more prominent in Tatiana, and I think it was based on gardenia rather than jasmine, but there was a level of congruence there, with the spicy-creamy white flowers.  It is a tropical beach of a fragrance, though not fruity at all. I think of trade routes from the Indies and tropical flowers and drinks made with coconut milk…

If this is your thing, hunt up some Margaretha Ley, or some Tatiana, via ebay. The parfum minis for Tatiana are still available at a reasonable price, though the Escada is not priced reasonably. You might get lucky and find a partially-used one for cheap, as I did via a fellow perfumista.

Then, kick back on your autumn porch and dream of Tahiti.

Notes for Margaretha Ley (released 1990, composed by Michel Almairac, discontinued): Lime, hyacinth, coconut, peach, iris, jasmine, orange blossom, ylang, cloves, musk, sandalwood, vanilla.

Notes for DvF Tatiana (released 1975, still in production but no longer pleasant IMO): Lime, hyacinth, orange blossom, jasmine, narcissus, gardenia, tuberose, rose, musk, sandalwood, amber.

* If I have not told you the story about my Tatiana stash, I ought to.  You remember when my mom, who haaaaaates fresh gardenias and BWF fragrances, made me take my newly-purchased bottle of Sand & Sable back to the drugstore, claiming it was “too old for me”? (I was 18.) Well, my first year of college, I bought a mini bottle of Tatiana at the drugstore and, as I had been taught, applied it delicately from the little splash edt bottle. I took it home with me for Spring Break… and over the course of four days, it disappeared.

Disappeared.  My sister swore she hadn’t seen it. My grandmother (who liked it) said she hadn’t seen it. My mother… well, let’s just say I have my suspicions to this day.  (Still love you, Mom. But maybe I ought to charge you for this replacement mini I bought on ebay.)

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Valentine’s Day 2012: A Dozen Roses, Bottled

The classic – some would say cliché – gift to a woman on Valentine’s Day is, of course, a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a dozen red roses, and jewelry. (My teenage daughter’s boyfriend brought her a card and six red roses yesterday; she gave him a handmade card and some candy. All together now: awwww, how sweet!) I don’t like chocolate in perfume, and the idea of jeweled perfumes will have to wait for another day, so here’s a look at some rose perfumes that I love. (Also, it’s an excuse to post beautiful pictures of roses.)

I do indeed love, love fragrances in which rose plays a major part, from light and girlish ones all the way through to dark Gothic ones. So many fragrances contain at least a little bit of rose – even if you can’t smell it on its own, it’s there, making everything smell round and full. I’ll admit up front that it is very, very difficult to find a rose fragrance that smells just like a freshly-cut dewy rose, because in order to obtain rose essence, the rose petals have to be treated in some way – from steam distillation to enfleurage (which involves pressing fresh petals in fat), to the modern scientific method called distillation moléculaire – and you always get “cooked” rose, not fresh. I figure if I want fresh roses, I’ll go to the florist.

For rose perfumes, I have a stash! Some of my favorites, starting from the light and girlish end:

Continue reading Valentine’s Day 2012: A Dozen Roses, Bottled

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Discontinued Saints

I blame Left Coast Nose for this one.  She mentioned a scent she liked in a comment, and then helpfully pointed out that it’s discontinued.  Which got me to thinking… how much of the stuff I actually own and wear is no longer being produced and sold at retail?  A bunch of it, that’s how much.   Edit:  I should explain, I bought nearly all of the following at online discounters, where most of them are indeed still available at the time of writing.  Exception Shalimar Light, which is getting scarce as alligator feathers.

I had titled this post “Love’s Retail Lost,” and then when I went looking for a photo to accompany it, I found this:

which, although not precisely on topic, was too good not to share.

I checked my Excel file, where I keep notes on what I’ve tested, what I’d like to test, and what I’ve bought, to find out.  To be fair, I excluded my (extensive) collection of vintage miniatures, which I bought primarily because they were vintage/discontinued/hard-to-find.

Mariella Burani edt.  I think Mariella Burani is still making some kind of fragrance, but the eponymous one is no longer produced.  When you find it at the discounters, it’s likely to be very cheap because stocks have been dumped.  This does not reflect its quality.

YSL Paris Pont des Amours Printemps Edition 2008   Again, another LE.  I can’t really complain about limited editions not sticking around, however much I’d like to (I’m still mourning over the L’Artisan Jacinthe de Bois I never got to smell).

Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur   I have seen Black Orchid recently in a retail store, but not VdF, and I can’t find an online listing for it at a retail establishment. 

Balenciaga Rumba.  Another “let’s just dump it at cost” scent because it’s been discontinued and there’s tons of old stock sitting around.  It’s a very 80’s style fragrance, big and rich and vampy, and that is quite unfashionable these days.

Donna Karan Gold.  Recently discontinued, along with a slew of other Karans.  I am saddened to report that they are still making the (hideous, IMO) Be Delicious and all its sugary little flankers.

This one’s in question: I can’t find Givenchy Organza Indecence, whether the original or the Les Mythiques version, anywhere.  But March says in her comments to me on this post she was told it’s not discontinued, just really hard to find.  Givenchy should get its act together – this one was a both a big seller and hugely popular among perfumistas.

L’Arte di Gucci.  It doesn’t surprise me that this one’s kaput, to be honest.  It’s too… too big, too lush, too animalic, too shrieking, too everything  for current tastes.  (Except marshmallowy and fruity.  It’s not fruit-flavored-candy enough for current tastes.  And now I’ll stop snarling about the fruity gourmand fad, at least for now.   I admit to liking Hanae Mori.)

Stetson Rich Suede, which was probably an LE to begin with.  Oh, well.

Ines de la Fressange 1999, the Calice Becker fruity floral  – there’s a newer version in a tall bottle with gold leaves, a gourmandish thing by Alberto Morillas, but I think it too has been discontinued.  I know I snark about fruity florals from time to time, but this one is done just right: light-hearted, tangy, a bellini in a bottle.

Okay, okay, fine, I’ll cop to this one: Victoria’s Secret Pink.   This would be the original Pink, not Pink Beach or Pink Angel or Pink Panties or whatever the heck those ever-sluttier Victoria’s Secret execs are coming up with these days, an airy green peony-freesia floral that is still pleasant to me, and which I bought another mini of this past year, to replace the old one that was getting really low.  My excuse? The CEO likes it.

Victoria’s Secret Victoria.   The very first fragrance VS released, waaaay back in the… late 80’s, I think, a beautiful floral chypre that nonetheless has a difficult opening due to age.  I’ve now smelled three different bottles of this, and all three are off in the topnotes – decayed bergamot, or something.  I never owned this when it was new – I couldn’t afford it.  But it’s lovely, when the weird top burns off.  VS used to carry really beautiful, elegant nightwear – I had a gorgeous teal satin spaghetti-strap nightie that I wore for years – heavy satin, with four-inch-deep soft ivory lace.  Victoria smells like that thing felt – elegant, luxurious, pretty.  

Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet.  I hereby curse Clive Christian to live, without diamonds and Lexuses and cash, sleeping in a tent and eating local food, in a miserably poor place for three months.   Perhaps he’d give up this ludicrous “most expensive perfume in the world” nonsense, and all the teddibly posh trappings of his current perfume business, which just annoys the %#** out of me. 

Cuir de Lancome.  A perfume with brains and beauty and a backbone?  Of course it’s discontinued, because no one under the age of 21 bought it.  Look, I’m not being ageist.  I think young women should wear what they like, even if I happen to find the popular fruity-sweet style ditzy and unpleasant.  It just burns my shorts that Lancome should decide not to continue producing a beautiful scent and selling it to “mature women” because they’d rather concentrate their efforts on selling things like Miracle So Magic and Tresor In Love.  Which I doubt very much will sell better than Cuir – they’ll just sell to the right demographic.

Shalimar Light.   News Flash: Eau de Shalimar is not an acceptable substitute.  Whose bright idea was it to bottle the smell of lemon baby wipes?

Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Ete.  This may have been intended as limited edition as well, but I can’t find anything that says so definitively.  (Note to self: Aha!  This is what Agent Provocateur Strip was reminding me of!  Not an exact match, of course – this is spicier – but similar in the floral-amber category.)

I’m not even including reformulated things like Ralph Lauren Lauren – the reformulation of that one was like taking Sigourney Weaver and turning her into, oh, Blake Lively* – and Kenzo Parfum d’Ete – which has been changed into a different, but still pleasant, scent.  (*Please don’t hate on me for the Blake Lively comment.  Blake’s fine as she is, but in my opinion, Sigourney is Too Much Woman to be turned into someone young, blonde, and… hmm, how to say it?  Naive.  Blake should aspire to be Sigourney, not the other way round.  RL Lauren used to be kind, interesting, beautiful, classic and strong.  Now it’s merely pretty. )

So if I count up the discontinued scents, ignoring the reformulateds and the vintages, that’s, like… (frantic scrambling to get the calculator) a whopping 28.6% of my full bottle wardrobe.  This is a little scary.  You think so?  On the other hand, it might tie in to the fact that I am a Total Sucker for stories of lost love.  This is probably even more scary when you consider that I bought all of these bottles knowing that these fragrances had been discontinued.

Anybody else as crazy as me?

Image is I’d rather be a perfect sinner by theilr at flickr.com.

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