Tuberose Series 6: Kai eau de parfum

Several celebrities are reported to wear Kai: Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner, Pamela Anderson, Tyra Banks, Kelly Ripa, Usher, Cate Blanchett, Alyssa Milano, Mary J. Blige, Kate Bosworth.*   It’s also a forum favorite. It was originally released as an oil, and is intended to smell like a Hawaiian vacation.

Perfume Review: Kai edp
Date released: 1999 (?) in oil and 2006 in edp
Perfumer:  Gaye Straza Rappoport
Sample provenance: edp sample from luckyscent, 2010

Subcategory: Gentle white floral with tuberose (although you could possibly induce me to change my mind and call it an Atypical green tuberose soliflore)

Kai is probably more a gardenia-focused scent than a tuberose-focused one; nevertheless, it’s definitely chock-full of tuberose. The listed notes are simply, “Gardenia, exotic white florals,” and that’s pretty much what you get. The scent does start out with a stemmy greenness under the gardenia, and the first fifteen minutes is just delightful, recalling a greenhouse where the gardenias are in bloom. After that, I smell a lot of tuberose and a grassy jasmine, and the whole thing is pretty and simple and luxurious for two hours – and then it’s just gone. I got four wearings out of my sample vial, and each time I got two, maybe two and a half, hours of scent. (I did layer it over some unscented shea butter twice, and the fourth time tried it on skin that had not been bathed for more than twenty-four hours, to see if that would make a difference. It didn’t.) Either there’s no base to this scent at all – and I see no typical basenotes are listed – or it’s a light musk that I cannot smell.

To be honest with you, Kai smells to me very much like the perfumer simply added some sambac jasmine and tuberose essential oils together, perhaps tossing in a few green notes, diluted with denatured alcohol and some fixative, and called it a day. Mind you, it’s very pretty, and I might be tempted to wear it in the summer, for a sundress scent, but it’s sort of the olfactory equivalent of a milkshake: milk, ice cream, blend. That’s it, you’re done, and it’s delicious but it didn’t take any skill to make. Also, it’s gone in a flash.

I did not try the oil, but maybe I should have. On the other hand, I have a feeling it would remind me of a concoction I smelled at a “natural perfumery” stall at our local permanent flea market, said concoction being made strictly of tuberose and jasmine sambac essential oils, in a carrier oil, and costing $12 for half an ounce.

The CEO and I stopped briefly, for five days, in Hawaii on our way back home from Australia and New Zealand a few years ago.  (Oh, come on.  Wouldn’t you rather fly back via Hawaii than LA? That was a no-brainer.)  And it did smell wonderful, with tropical flowers and ocean breezes and coconut oil, and a freshness in the air, especially on the Big Island of Hawaii where we visited Volcanoes National Park – go if you possibly can, it’s amazing and largely undeveloped.  Kai does not smell like that Hawaii vacation, however – the scents I’ve tested that made me think of Hawaii are Ormonde Jayne Frangipani and Maoli Colonia Dulce. 

The Bottom Line :
Quality    B Smells like natural florals but is very simply structured.
Grab-scale score   6
Short description     Tuberose Floral.
Cost    $$
Earns compliments:    Yes.
Scent presence:     Nice three-foot sillage, but very poor staying power in edp.
Review Report:   Now Smell This, For the Love of PerfumeBasenotes, Fragrantica  

* Celebrity info from luckyscent. 
Top image: Kai eau de parfum at ebay by andyfrog.  Middle image: Jasminum sambac by mondomuse at flickr.  Bottom image: Tuberose by Swami Stream at flickr.


9 thoughts on “Tuberose Series 6: Kai eau de parfum”

  1. I'm so with you on this one– I think about it, I take it out from time to time, I sniff it, I think, "Nice enough." Then I think "why"? As in, why not smell something deeper, more interesting, like Apothia "If" or Yosh "Ginger Ciao," if you need a tropical bump.Why would something this straightforward become a cult/celebrity hit, I wonder…?

  2. Exactly, LCN – I keep thinking, Why bother? Is this all there is? Knowing that the woman who created it owned a boutique in LA does explain some of its appeal – it's exclusive, ooh la la!, and it IS pretty. But still.I'm wearing Ubar today; what a rich thing that is, and how ridiculous Kai seems next to it.

  3. I just blind-puchased Kai and lo and behold, here is another review! I'm on a bit of a gardenia kick at the moment and so I am thoroughly enojoying Kai. I agree that it's a simple scent but, for me, that's a big part of its charm.

  4. Thanks for the review. There used to be a store near me that had this prominently displayed, and I'd try it, and wonder what all the fuss was about, and if I owed it a more thorough wearing. (The packing is so _reverent_, as if the contents should be somehow lifechanging.)It's nice to know that that there isn't all that much for the fuss to be about. 🙂 I don't like white flowers without a twist, so now I know that this isn't for me.

  5. I agree with you all about Kai's simplicity and with Chickenfreak about liking white florals with a twist. Which is why I am so smitten with Amaranthine… : – )

  6. Hi Mals, I’m chiming in quite late in the discussion… but you can guess that I’m going through your whole tuberose series with so much fun!!
    To get a sample of kai oil I literally jumped through hoops, walked on one hand, and burnt votive candles to the perfume muses.
    Well, it was worth it: I love Kai.
    The oil lasts through the day, though after 4/5 hours it morphs into a soft skin scent.
    And you’re right, it is a very simple clean white floral/musky fragrance.
    The “do it yourself” idea is tempting.
    (I “know” what I would like in my perfect simple tuberose fix, don’t I ?!?)
    The point, I think, is to find the right essential oils to begin with, which is the really tricky part… and the game might turn quite expensive…
    Well whatever: in my heart (and on my skin) there is space for both Kai and Fracas, Carnal Flower and Intense Tiaré. Unless Beyond Love calls, of course… 😉

  7. Hi, Zazie – glad you’re enjoying the tuberose series! I’m a little behind on posting anything new… this darn snow is driving me nuts.

    Kai is really, really pretty. (I do think it’s overpriced, though.) I certainly think I’ve got room in my heart for more than one tuberose scent…

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