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.
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 Perfume, Basenotes, 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.