Fragrance

By Andrea Toochin

Recently, WWD reported on the celebrity fragrance trend and the soon-to-be dueling pop stars Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez, who announced upcoming fragrance launches. What was once a sector reserved for experienced cosmetic companies has now become the must-have item that marks the point when an entertainer has reached stardom – or in other interpretations, when they are a household name, recognizable everywhere from Los Angeles to Louisville.

But these celebrities are not the artists and scientists behind the actual product. They are only the muses – and in an attempt to perfectly capture their personality via a mixture of perfume oils and alcohol, the artistic scientists creating the scents are often stifled, forced to create an essence that American fans can identify with. The result is a slew of seemingly similar scents that fall into one of the following categories: sporty, floral, musky, or traditional. Amid the endless array of generic-smelling fragrances from the likes of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and designers such as Michael Kors, we reveal the scents worth spritzing.

Sex in the City fans remember the episode where Carrie went to the movies, with The City as her date. This is something any true New Yorker understands, because it’s a place where you never feel alone – the liveliness of the city accompanies you wherever you go. We, however, recognize that many of our loyal readers enjoy a visit but don’t want to live here. So, our guide to fragrances is categorized by style: athletic, simplistic, bohemian, flower child and professional chic.

For the sporty women, we have the latest from Jil Sander, Sport Jil Sander for women. Just last month, Lancaster, one of the largest fragrance companies in the world, brought this fresh new scent to The States. Packaged in clear, cylindrical bottle, with 80s-style fluorescent pink print, the philosophy behind the fragrance is the image of a sporty woman with drive and ambition – so perfect for the New York woman. As such, strong top notes including grapefruit and ginger mix with peony, freesia and are balanced out by a touch of peach.

Limon, the Eau de Toilette from The Thymes Limon collection, is a citrus spray for those who are always chic, but with a simple, natural vibe. There’s no mistaking this one – it is a lemon spray with a sweet aroma aided by kumquat, mandarin leaf, and pink pomelo, a descendent of the grapefruit that is found in the tropics.

Although Kenzo is owned by the luxury goods giant, LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey), their approach to cosmetics is upscale indie. SummerbyKenzo is a feminine green scent packaged in a delightful yellow, leaf-shaped bottle, comprised of citron, bergamot, mimosa, violet, cedar, and styrax, a flower. Inspired by summer rays, open fields and fresh romance, the signature yellow that visualizes the essence of happiness and joy conjures popular images of Tuscany. Though it doesn’t embody the philosophy perfectly, it’s an excellent summer scent for the carefree flower child that either has escaped the 70s or was born a few decades too late. SummerbyKenzo reminds us there’s a happy, lighthearted part of all of us that the warmth and light help draw out; from behind the harried, competitive city slicker faà§ade, for three months, we welcome the blithe alter-ego with open arms.

For the Bohemian ladies out there, who were mixing and matching without effort, drawing influences from the seven continents before the runways went multiculti, Nyakio presents the Dry Oil Spray, which also comes in a purse-size roll on perfume. This oil doubles as an eau de toilette and is an irresistible musk, infused with apricot, coconut, amber and sandalwood.

Image courtesy of BeautyHabit.com

A vintage inspired bottle and a light, feminine fragrance make Cote Bastide’s Mimosa Floral Water perfect for the woman with subtle elegance and quiet confidence. Drawn from the mimosa herb, it’s so light you can splash it on generously without worry and there’s a sweet tone that’s addictive. This is the kind of scent people will come to identify you with, but beyond that, this is the perfect accessory to the girly room decorated in a Victorian vibe, complete with a white metal bed, pattern fabrics and whispy clothes draped around – straight out of an Anthropologie ad.

Image courtesy of BeautyHabit.com

When it comes to style, mine is a mix of classic elegance, boho chic and edgy downtown. I may be the only tourist that plowed through the Louvre in two hours, and I don’t hide my dislike of Parisians, but I must admit, some of the best fragrances come out of France. Mure Musc is a perfume oil of blackberry musk that smells like an exotic fruit, faint musk, and a light classic feminine scent, all fused into a perfume extract that can be used as a room fragrance or a bath accent too.

A welcomed departure from the mass-produced perfumes bottled in girly hued-and accessorized-bottles, i Profumi di Firenze delivers a simple, elegant bottle, but the scents are potent and far from predictable. The Italian line is based on old apothecary recipes developed for the Medicis, during the Renaissance. One of two new scents, Costa Mediterranea, smells like a lemon orchard and the ocean breeze. A personal favorite, unlike any other scent I’ve encountered, is my choice fragrance for the fall, when it launches at Barneys. Spezie de Medici mixes the spices that currently inhabit my favorite winter drinks – real Indian chai and spiced cider. Though a bit heavy on the cinnamon, the other top notes, cayenne, cardamom, clove and ginger, balance it out.

I admit bias – Valentino has long been one of my favorite designers, because unlike Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, or Armani, who occasionally let elegance become boring, Valentino’s creations always show his unique touch. This fragrance is no different; with it, he attempts to bottle the essence of the modern goddess, a woman who is feminine, sophisticated and strong. Three of the four top notes are nothing new – mandarin, grapefruit and freesia – but the fourth, fig, sets it apart. It’s strong and sweet, just like the complicated, beautiful women who inspire him. Bulgarian Rose, Lei flower, Ambergris and woodsy notes accompany the fig to make the perfect fragrance for a classy, sophisticated woman who takes pride in her individuality.

We couldn’t have a fragrance article without something for the glamazons, and who else to put out a fragrance for the women who like to the show their stuff and parade around town in the latest, but Kimora Lee Simmons. Goddess marks her fragrance debut, and true to her extravagant lifestyle, the bottle is pastel pink, with a removable rhinestone ring modeled after her 30-carat diamond ring (yes 30!). This scent would top off an outfit of a sexy dress and killer heals, perfect for a night out clubbing or a rooftop party. Gardenia, rosebuds and cedrat flower reign with touches of blue lily, hyacinth, and my favorite note, black pepper.

Whatever your inclination, don’t rush when shopping for a new fragrance. Scents smell differently on everyone and many evolve and change over the course of a day. Walking into a store and spraying your body with five products is not a wise move. Try a few each day over the course of the week and evaluate what you want. And remember, a fragrance, like clothing, should be an extension of you.

Jil Sander is available at Perfume Worldwide, 3.4oz $42.71

The Thymes Limon Eau de Toilette is available at New London Pharmacy 246 Eighth Ave (22nd & 23rd) 4.25oz $31

SummerByKenzo is available at Sephora and http://www.Nordstrom.com, 25mL $40, 50mL $60 and 75mL $70.

Nyakio Dry Oil Spray is available designlogic.us and Amirah G. – 66 West 38th. Street, 4oz spray $15 and .03oz perfume stick $48.

Cote Bastide Mimosa Floral Water is available at BeautyHabit.com 8oz $38.

L’Aromarine extracts are available at smallflower.com and at Miniminimarket, 218 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn – 718-302-9337 1.6oz $24.

I Profumi di Firenze Costa Mediterranea is available at Barneys New York 50mL $79. Spezie de Medici will be available in September at Barneys.

V Valentino is available at Bergdorf Goodman and Valentino boutiques this summer, and department stores in September, 1oz $42, 3oz $82.

Goddess is available at Perfume.com, 1.7oz $49.50, 3.4oz $64.50.

Originally published July 2005
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