Now that spring has arrived, heralding new and fresh beginnings, I was desperately looking for a new fragrance. I am pretty much a “signature fragrance” type of person, wearing the same fragrance day and night for quite a while (sometimes months, sometimes years), rather than having a “fragrance wardrobe” of various perfumes that I select from based on my feelings on each day. For the last four/five years, I have almost exclusively worn Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, straying occasionally to it’s flanker fragrance, Infusion de Rose over the last 12 months and a YSL Paris springtime variation every now and then. But, while I was getting bored with the Infusion d’Iris, I just hadn’t found anything else out there that was perfect enough to replace it with that it is now down to its last dregs. I considered going back to some of my previous signature perfumes, such as Stella by Stella McCartney, Cristalle by Chanel, and Eau d’Hadrian by Annick Goutal, but none of them felt quite right.
So, I have been on a hunt for the past 6 months, with no success. Everything seems to be so “fruity”! Honestly, every perfume launch I come across seems to have the fruity label attached. A “fruity floral”, a “fresh fruity fragrance”, a “vibrant explosion of tropical fruit”, the list goes on. This trend seemed to start around the time I was working in cosmetics in the 90s, and unfortunately, hasn’t abated. I completely blame Clinique Happy (released in 1998) for creating the frenzy, and J’adore (1999) for solidifying it. According to the Fragrantica database, there are now more than 2000 perfumes categorized as fruity florals! Not that there is anything inherently wrong with a fruity fragrance, but when there are so many of them, they completely dominate the market. I just find them, in general, too teeny-bopper, the type of perfume you would buy for your 14 year old niece. Which probably explains why almost every “celeb” fragrance has a fruity floral juice (I’m looking at you, Britney, J Lo, Fergie, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, et al!) – it’s a great starting point for those entering the fragrance market for the first time.
But, that is not what I was after. I wanted something elegant and sophisticated, and I wanted it to be understated, not too bold. I didn’t want my perfume to enter the room before I did, a la perfumes of the eighties, such as Georgio and Opium, which ruled out pretty much the whole category of orientals. I am over the citrus category, and I’ve never been a big fan of the aromatics family. A few recent launches held seemed to hold promise. I’ve liked aquatic florals in the past (L’eau d’Issey & L’eau par Kenzo were two of my original signature perfumes), so Eternity Aqua seemed a possibility but it was “nice” – nothing offensive, but nothing special either. It was light and fresh, but was still missing that elegance and sophistication I was after. It was still a young woman’s perfume.
Balenciaga For Women looked perfect on paper – it was from a sophisticated and elegant brand, it had powdery/woody notes in common with Infusion d’Iris – and on my skin, was completely wrong. It was beautiful on the card, but as soon as it hit my skin, it turned into something horrible. I usually like to let a new fragrance sit all day to see how it evolves over time. Sometimes a top note may not be amazing, but the dry down is, and conversely, some fragrances smell great when they are sprayed, but the middle and base notes that come through 30 minutes or even hours later do not. This was so bad on me, I had to wash it off straight away.
Trying something along the same line, I sampled Bottega Veneta. The bottle is the epitome of understated elegance, and the perfume is described as the “the scented signature of the house – invisible, private luxury”. Plus, the face of the perfume is the daughter of Ines de la Fressange, one of my all time favourite girl crushes! But, again, as much as I wanted it to work (this bottle would look so good on my dresser!), the leather accord in it just wasn’t me.
In a moment of serendipity, I was reading an article about another of my girl crushes, Aerin Lauder, and the launch of her eponymous lifestyle range in the September issue of Town & Country; it jogged my memory of the three Estee Lauder Private Collection variations that she created during her time as Creative Director of Estee Lauder, all of them inspired by Estee herself, and which for some reason I had never tried before. I didn’t bother trying Amber & Ylang Ylang, since I don’t like either of those notes at all, but I had high hopes for the Jasmin White Moss (a chypre, like Cristalle), and I thought I would try Tuberose Gardenia while I was at the counter. Jasmin White Moss was beautiful, elegant and sophisticated, a modern version of a classic chypre, and I seriously considered buying it, until I tried Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. What a relevation! It was everything I was after; it was also elegant and sophisticated, but the Gardenia and Tuberose lent it a creamy freshness rather than the earthiness of the Jasmin White Moss. The white florals, so easily overdone in many other perfumes, were balanced perfectly between sensual and understated. It was perfect! And as a bonus, the bottle was beautiful as well. The pic at the top of the post is the parfum, and is divine, but way too pricey for me (those are real gemstones on the cap). The pic above is the eau de parfum, and simple glass flacon with the hammered cap (inspired by one of Estee’s necklaces) is going to look just right on my dresser! And that is how today, (in a totally long winded, hopefully not too boring way!), Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia became my new signature fragrance.