Fragrance

By Stephanie Nolasco

From Jennifer Aniston to Jay Z, every celebrity and fauxlebrity has a fragrance these days, and they all seem to smell the same: as fake as Hollywood.

Sure, there are some exceptions, like late screen siren Elizabeth Taylor, who’ve paved the way for other stars to bottle their essence of sorts for fans. However, most fragrances with a famous label tend to sadly fall short in the must-have department. Too sweet, cloying, cheap and predictable, a true fragrance collector can spot one from a mile away and run to the hills, clutching onto a classic Chanel No. 5 for comfort.

But not every celebrity gives us headaches (sorry, Kardashian).

Take the Olsen twins. And no, we’re not talking about those cutesy blonde twins who played the single adorable role of Michelle in “Full House.” This is about the two leading ladies who’ve developed a successful fashion empire, becoming multimillionaires before turning 21. And at age 27, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have focused their talents on developing luxe couture collections. When they announced an exclusive fragrance agreement in late 2013, it sounded, well, obvious. They’re celebrities and anyone with a notable name has something on the beauty market, correct? Their first adult fragrances developed under this agreement, Elizabeth and James Nirvana WHITE and Elizabeth and James Nirvana BLACK, are being hailed as “a celebration of intimacy as well as individuality”–and nearly everyone will embrace this debut.

“Everyone wants to experience their nirvana,” explains Mary-Kate Olsen in their official press statement. “Ashley and I understand everyone’s nirvana is different so we’re asking our Elizabeth and James girl, ‘What is your nirvana?”

“Our nirvana is reflected in the juice, bottle, packaging, and campaign imagery for Elizabeth and James Nirvana and we’re excited to share it with the SEPHORA client,” adds Ashley Olsen.
But forget the schmancy logos and heavy glass bottles. We’re all about whether the “juice” is worth the hype and our wallets.

For starters, shoppers will be happy to discover there are no candied ingredients, sugary additions, or super feminine flowers here, also known as a safe formula many stars have stuck by to attract younger fans. Taking on a more masculine approach, BLACK is a sensual perfume that’s light enough for daywear, but lasting enough to make a grand entrance during the evening hours. This smoky, seductive scent starts with spicy sandalwood, which almost feels like caressing your nude body against a cool satin robe after a steamy hot shower. It quickly transforms into a touch of powdery violet, becoming smoother and richer every minute, creating a mysterious aura that draws all eyes on you. Finally in the dry down, creamy vanilla comes forward, a warm and comforting note, ideal for sudden chilly spring days. It’s peppery like cologne, but still sexy and intriguing like an aroma made fit for a lady, and one that’s versatile and easy to layer on for any occasion.

But what about its twin? WHITE is a surprisingly stand-alone fragrance that doesn’t compete with BLACK. Light, airy, and tantalizing, it skips on the heady musk notes and instead, opts for blooming white florals, such as peony and lily of the valley. There’s also a splash of sun-kissed citrus found here and even a hint of rose from a distance, but both aren’t powerful enough to take over the fragrance. It’s clean, fresh, and has the ability to make one smile at first whiff. WHITE’s aim is to be simple and chic, perfect for casual outings and first dates. It may not be as prominent as BLACK, but it’s a refreshing take on simple flowers and smells nothing short of heavenly.

White the Olsens have two unique winners with their adult aromas, there is one downer. For the price ($22 for a roller ball and $75 for the 1.7 oz. spray), it’s an extravagant splurge for the average shopper of celebrity fragrances, especially with so many more affordable fragrances to choose from other stars on the market. And for the price tag, one may want to consider a rarer perfume without the notable name attached to it. Not only will it feel more personalized and custom-made for the wearer, but it will also become a more appropriate signature scent that few people will emulate. But the Olsens’ clientele are often stylish socialites who aren’t afraid to swipe their cards to look and feel fabulous–and the label is always crucial. While pricey, BLACK and WHITE are each captivating, leaving you wanting more with every whiff.

Available at Sephora stores and Sephora.com.

Originally published May 2014
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