Polarizing Fragrances : Perfumes That Challenge and Perhaps Seduce

Bandit

Strong emotions lead to lasting love, therefore a polarizing fragrance is much more likely to provoke a strong emotion and may perhaps forge a stronger bond than a perfume that is simply pleasant. Sometimes, however, some fragrances simply remain challenging and as much as you try to like them, they do not return the favor.

Among my favorite challenging fragrances is Robert Piguet BanditI initially found its combination of green notes, leather and moss is roughewn and quite brutal, and in fact, I still feel the same way about it. Yet, Bandit has such a bold, dramatic and confident aura that inspite of finding it difficult, I was tempted to put it on again and again. It is now among my top 25 all-time favorites.  On the other hand, there is no such successful courtship between Serge Lutens Miel de Bois and me. Its overdose of honey notes that verges on urinous takes me to a New York backstreet alley on a hot summer day–not a pleasant olfactory experience.

What fragrances do you find challenging and with which one did you form a lasting bond? Conversely, which do you find unwearable?

Image: Robert Piguet Bandit ad.

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70 Comments

  • axum: So much has been written about Bandit…I’m more than intrigued! I have tried (and tried) to love the other big Piguet fragrance, Fracas. Based on the notes I should at least appreciate it, but as soon as the stopper is off the bottle I feel like I’m being smothered in a white floral cacaphony — eek! I keep it around though. Perhaps one day the notes will fall into place and I’ll smell the symphony. The first time I smelled Van Cleef & Arpels First, its powerful human (?) note riding over the white flowers scared me off. But I’ve grown to love it. Now it’s on the wishlist. February 19, 2011 at 4:03am Reply

  • Rowanhill: I like strong fragrances but Fracas is my challenge as well. It was probably the first niche fragrance I bought. I love it for being the enormous white flower bouquet it is but it wears me rather than the other way around, no matter how sparingly I put it on. February 19, 2011 at 5:19am Reply

  • Olfactoria: I am with you when it comes to Miel de Bois, it just won’t work for me. White florals are a challenge for me. Currently I am struggling with Carnal Flower (your wedding day perfume, I know!), I want to love it, but it throws me off loke a wild horse every time. 😉 February 19, 2011 at 6:39am Reply

  • Violaine: My olfactive experiences are not as aboundant as yours but still, intense nonetheless. Miel de Bois is my favorite perfume up to date. I was crushed when i read it was off the export line. What is left from my bottle is used in really important occasions. I wore it at work, with friends, in every and each occasion never negatively critiqued.
    I own vintage HABANITA and pre-formulation HABANITA. I have a very ambiguous approach to her. I like her but i fear sometimes she “owns” me more than I wear her. I cought the look of a lady once, frowned eyes & all. I was feeling very umcomfortable. Since then I don’t know if HABANITA is a foe or a friend ? February 19, 2011 at 7:27am Reply

  • Ines: I keep getting back to Shalimar. 🙂 It is one I couldn’t fathom why it was getting so much love. Now, I could wear it all the time, in any version. 🙂 The same thing happened with Chanel 19 but in a bit older version (I’m not sure at what point do perfumes enter the vintage label). I’m still not happy with what’s in stores but I have a bottle now of the one I like. 🙂
    And two I cannot wear no matter how much I tried (and many seem to love it), are Daim Blonde and Chergui by SL. February 19, 2011 at 7:35am Reply

  • Ann C: Tuberose fragrances are challenging for me. I regularly test my samples of Fracas and Carnal Flower, but so far it’s a no-go for me. I even gave away my bottle of ELPC Tuberose Gardenia, which most people find beautiful and easy to wear. I could glimpse the beauty occasionally, but most of the time the tuberose simply overwhelmed me. Prada Infusion de Tubereuse, so disdained by aficionados, is my tuberose of choice.

    I like many fragrances that others find skanky, such as Amaranthine or Boudoir. Even MKK, while not my favorite, isn’t nearly as difficult for me as the famous tuberose fragrances. February 19, 2011 at 7:43am Reply

  • Nancy C.: The most challenging fragrance I’ve encountered so far would have to be Fracas. Ironically enough, because I adore Bandit and it is definitely at the top of my Hit List. Fracas however I can’t wear. Even one drop makes me nauseous. I’m not sure if it’s the tuberose because I tolerate it in other tuberose fragrances. It’s just something about the combination of strong white florals and the overpowering intensity of the thing. February 19, 2011 at 8:42am Reply

  • Pklagrange: The most challenging fragrances for me are the soft florals! I feel like I’m going nowhere. I’m wearing Vert Violette today & keep waiting for …something. I’m still strggling with cumin, but Opus IV is winning me over. M/Mink is also a little too animalistic for me. On the other hand, I regularly wear Fracas, Habanita, Bandit and Dzing. I so enjoy reading about all of our different reactions to these wonderful fragrances. February 19, 2011 at 9:20am Reply

  • rosarita: It took me about 10 yrs to come around to appreciating Angel enough to wear it. The secret for me is one dab; my beautiful blue star mini will last beyond my lifetime.
    I adore the first two minutes of Bandit, then it smells just like car exhaust fumes. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve tried it; perhaps it’s time to revisit.
    And I have come to terms with the fact that tuberose and violet are notes that will never work for me, and believe me, I’ve tried. Tuberose turns into Wizard air freshener on my skin, no matter how it’s mixed. I enjoy it on other people. 🙂 February 19, 2011 at 9:54am Reply

  • Victoria: Fracas is not an easy one to carry off, and in general, whenever people talk about white florals being meek and simply pretty, I pull out my bottle of Fracas to prove the opposite. 🙂 February 19, 2011 at 10:17am Reply

  • Victoria: Those lush, big tuberose notes again! I will not even ask you if you like Tubereuse Criminelle. 🙂 February 19, 2011 at 10:17am Reply

  • Victoria: I know exactly what you mean about Habanita, my friend calls it “an imposing perfume.” In a sense, that it has such a strong character that it is very polarizing.

    You are not the only person I know who loves Miel de Bois. I just may be sensitive to those notes, that’s all. February 19, 2011 at 10:21am Reply

  • Victoria: I am slowly growing to love Daim Blonde, although it took me a while. Its sweetness bothered me at first.
    As for Chergui, I am afraid, I had a falling out with it. Somehow it no longer captivates me as it used to… February 19, 2011 at 10:23am Reply

  • Victoria: Prada Infusion de Tubereuse would be perfect for anyone who does not care for strong, heavy tuberose notes. It is quite pretty.
    I need to revisit Amaranthine, which somehow did not seem skanky at all to me. I liked it, but I missed the animalic aura others mentioned. Now that I have a sample, I can give it a proper wear. February 19, 2011 at 10:26am Reply

  • Victoria: >>>It’s just something about the combination of strong white florals and the overpowering intensity of the thing.

    You are exactly right, it is not only the heft of the white florals in it, but also the overall richness of the composition. It is not a shy white floral by any means. February 19, 2011 at 10:27am Reply

  • Victoria: Me too, I love reading the reviews of these difficult fragrances, because they often elicit very strong reactions, either negative or positives. That’s always fun, even if someone completely pans one of my favorites. February 19, 2011 at 10:31am Reply

  • Victoria: I am a strong believe in skin chemistry, because I have smelled the same perfume being different on different skins. It is amazing sometimes to see how some people really push rose notes, others the smoky, leathery ones, etc.

    That describes my own relationship with Angel–dislike at first, and then a growing appreciation for it. Same with Womanity, which I know is hated by many. February 19, 2011 at 10:34am Reply

  • ScentScelf: It seems I am often outing myself on this one, the challenge that does not return the favor: Mitsouko. I keep it, I visit on a semi-regular basis, I feel like I poser in perfume when I reveal how it does not please me. Though we have made progress of sorts; first, it was like I had a rubber arm and it beat me in an arm wrestling match in the blink of an eye; then, it was more like a wrestle me to the floor thing.

    I hasten to add, I am not enjoying this particular instance of being wrestled to the floor.

    But I have wrestled with many a galbanum scent, and emerged happy (yes, No. 19 is one, but it always held promise behind the challenge; Silences is another). And, as I recently commented to someone else, Bandit is one of those challenges that still has the best of me, but I am happy to keep around, because the one or two times I ended up on time, victory was sweet. Okay, not “sweet” in the olfactory sense, but very rewarding. 😉 February 19, 2011 at 10:43am Reply

  • Elisa: Tried to leave a comment a moment ago but my internet fritzed. Like ScentSelf above, I struggle with Mitsouko, along with L’Heure Bleue — they both have a weirdly medicinal, rubbery facet I can’t seem to get past. I also am not a fan of Chanel No. 5 EDT. The combo of aldehydes just overwhelms me.

    However: I have always loved Angel. White Linen is all beauty to me, no “old lady.” And I like a dose of skank, as in MKK or Rose Poivree. I usually choose not to wear polarizing scents to the office though! February 19, 2011 at 10:52am Reply

  • Violaine: It might be. I think i understand because it resemble the smell coming out of a jar of honey, when one’s open the lid. It is strong, rich like concentrated pollen ! February 19, 2011 at 11:39am Reply

  • linda: I hope this changes, but I have trouble with Fracas. It does something to me…as Nancy said…brings on a little nausea. So strange. Poison did that to me too. (I tried a Sample after LT’s review)
    So interesting.
    I love the idea of Fracas and I remember loving the scent of it at first.
    But somehow, each time I try it…putting even a tiny bit on….I feel rather horrible. Almost as if I had grown suddenly old. I need to scrub it off, sit down and let the air clear.
    Now Carnal Flower, on the other hand, was instant love..and continues to be. February 19, 2011 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Olfactoria: I only smelled the wax sample of TC, so I really can’t say I have experienced this perfume, but I think it would be safe to say we would have a hard time together. But who knows, maybe one day TC is among my favorites. 🙂 February 19, 2011 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Xenia: I am not a fan of Fracas, though I love tuberose in general. The reason why i do not like Fracas is the same reason why many people do – the buttery creamy note that comes out and turns everything into the memory of some desert, where the cream is too rich and too sweet at the same time. However, when I know I do not like something and why, I can leave it alone and switch to something else.
    So the real struggle for me is when I cannot really decide. For instance, I love leather in Cuir de Russie, but I am struggling with Knize Ten. What I mean by struggle is – I cannot say no or yes, I am suspending in-between and doomed for eternity, I find this position challenging and even uncomfortable. The same can be said about Odalisque, Borneo 1834, Sarrasins, Tolu and Private Collection by Estee Lauder. It would be easy if I could explain them away by specificity of some annoying and recurrent note that I cannot love, but no. I seem to have a perfectly balanced love-hate relationship with all of them and only hope that one day one of the sides will be predominant, but even then would this be enough… February 19, 2011 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, the wax sample of Tubereuse Criminelle is not that representative of the parfum, mostly because the top note is what makes TC so exhilarating. In the wax form, they are rather subdued.
    You never know, our taste change so much the more we smell. Perhaps, one day you and I will even grow to love Miel de Bois. 🙂 February 19, 2011 at 12:51pm Reply

  • LostArgonaut: I guess there are not many masculines to claim “polarizing” effect, but mine was Caron’s Yatagan. Its harsh opening and nudeness gave me so much hesitation to wear it, one of my friend called the scent brutal, another total stranger said she loved it. I somehow started to develop fondness to that unique composition, but not giving Yatagan enough chance, I gave it to my Dad, a decision I regret a little…. February 19, 2011 at 12:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: Very good way of putting it. It is a raw, animalic scent, but the one that is very different from musk, leather or civet. February 19, 2011 at 12:56pm Reply

  • Victoria: Mitsouko and Parure perhaps took me the longest to appreciate, because the combination of chypre accords, sweet plummy fruit and that classical oriental Guerlinade base was somehow too much. I grew to love them in the end, but approaching them for the first time gave me the same feeling of consternation that I felt reading Crime and Punishment at the age of 12 (it was part of the Soviet school program, and I started school a bit earlier than my peers.) February 19, 2011 at 12:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: Muscs Koublai Khan was surprisingly non-polarizing to me personally, I found it quite an easy fragrance to wear. However, some comments I received on it proved that I am an exception, rather than the rule. 🙂 Rose Poivree, on the other hand, is still a struggle for me. February 19, 2011 at 1:11pm Reply

  • Victoria: There is this combination of butteriness and sweetness in Fracas that bothers quite a few people. Same in Poison, it is heady and sweet and heavy. I love both, but I wear them in minuscule doses. Otherwise, they start bothering me. February 19, 2011 at 1:13pm Reply

  • Heidi: Mitsouko– it took about a year of coming back to my samples, and then I smelled the vintage EDP, and poof! I was lucky enough to get a little vintage bottle, and I treasure it. I don’t always want to wear it, because it’s so bossy and I have to be in the right frame of mind, but I always admire it now.

    Timbuktu– same thing, a year of sniffing and wrinkling my brow. One cold fall day I stopped trying so hard and just let it be, and I could feel the radiance of the woods like warm coals of a fire. Now I love it.

    The difficult ones sometimes conquer our hearts more completely, and become more irreplaceable… February 19, 2011 at 1:30pm Reply

  • Victoria: Xenia, sometimes when I cannot decide, it is an indication that the perfume is not for me. Joy is a great perfume, but I am just not taken with it. I am happy to have some for reference, but I hardly ever wear it these days.

    Knize Ten has a much darker, more phenolic leather note than Cuir de Russie (and few floral notes to soften the impact.) I can see why it is challenging! February 19, 2011 at 1:31pm Reply

  • Victoria: For me, Kouros was very difficult to love, but now I very much enjoy it now.
    Brutal is a good way to describe Yatagan, and it is so memorable! February 19, 2011 at 1:34pm Reply

  • Victoria: The first time I smelled Timbuktu, I was just repulsed! It smelled like musty pine needles to me. However, something about it kept me going back to my samples, and now it is among my favorite fragrances. I cannot imagine my perfume wardrobe without it.

    >>The difficult ones sometimes conquer our hearts more completely, and become more irreplaceable…

    So true! You’ve said it so well! February 19, 2011 at 1:40pm Reply

  • Glasspetalsmoke: Difficult fragrances test our memories, our notions of balance between complements & contrasts, and truly, our very souls. If we allow some space to understand what might repel us or cause confusion, we open our minds to possibility. Even if we don’t fall in love with what we find strange or different, we come to terms with a different way of relating to life through our senses. This is the diamond in perfumery; and any other art for that matter. February 19, 2011 at 1:42pm Reply

  • Victoria: That is very true! February 19, 2011 at 2:15pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Oh, I think most of my great loves followed some version of this story. I sniff, I am overwhelmed, I come back for another tentative sniff, I am puzzled, and so on and so forth. Nuit de Tubereuse is the most recent one (wow, tuberose is coming up a lot today!). I couldn’t deal with the green mango, but I was so addicted to the electric pepper top that I kept applying anyway, and then I grew to love the whole development, if not the specific notes. February 19, 2011 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: The main reason I am getting tired of the tuberose trend in the mainstream launches is because they usually render it a very clean, white floral + coconut. I find that unexciting.
    Even though I did not care for Nuit de Tubereuse as a tuberose fragrance, I found it haunting. It somehow drew me back. I am still struggling with it a bit, but I may be giving in! February 19, 2011 at 3:38pm Reply

  • Ann C: Nuit de Tubereuse is another challenging one for me, but it’s not the tuberose, it’s the mildew note. Those who love it don’t describe it as mildew, but whatever it is, I just can’t get past it. Still, I might have to give it another chance… February 19, 2011 at 3:51pm Reply

  • Victoria: I can definitely see what you mean. It does have the musty-wet mineral note that might come across as mildew. I notice it also in Fleur de Liane. February 19, 2011 at 4:07pm Reply

  • aotearoa: This is a great topic and the responses make excellent reading. Mine is Estee Lauder’s Azuree – I recoiled on first sniff and my notes read ‘like luncheon sausage’ (sort of like your Spam?). I have no idea what I was smelling, but it frightened me off for a good while. However, like others, those smells that repel are also fascinating and the vial gleamed up at me and called for another try. And somehow it was fantastic. Leathery,dry citrus goodness and I now covet my very strong vintage cologne which I found on ebay for $23 which,even with postage all the way here to New Zealand, is a treasured bargain. I am watching for a vintage parfum – does it exist and has anyone tried it?
    There is also another category of perfumes which is the ‘nice,but no prize’ on inital sniff. Later subsequent sniffings reveal that these are wondrous smells that make the essential friends list; those that you spray and there is that delicious moment of happy recognition and welcome. For me the latest 2 are Dzing! (horse breath and hay) and Timbuktu(cool,dry brush scented smoke).
    Thanks for the good reading provided for my Sunday morning lie in with freshly brewed coffee and Dzing! !! February 19, 2011 at 4:27pm Reply

  • moi: I have tried to love Gucci EDP (brown juice in the square clear bottle), but find that cumin note nearly insurmountable and therefore totally unwearable. And while I’m a huge fan of white florals, I also struggle with Fracas. I want to like it. I want to wear it. But I usually just end up spritzing some on a tissue and tucking it into my purse.

    The one fragrance I do adore that sends most people running for the hills is Alexander McQueen’s Kingdom. I hardly get any cumin at all—instead it’s all lovely lemony roses. February 19, 2011 at 5:24pm Reply

  • Victoria: I am not that sensitive to cumin either, so Kingdom does not bother me either. I smell it clearly in Kingdom, but it does not convey anything unsavory or unpleasant to me. Now, in Gucci EDP, the cumin note is allayed to the rich animalic note, which seems to magnify the skanky element tremendously. I can see why it can be challenging. 🙂 February 19, 2011 at 5:27pm Reply

  • Victoria: It took me a long long time to get used to the vintage Lauders, and I am still getting challenged by some of them. Yet, they are memorable and dramatic, so I keep on trying. Of course, sometimes such efforts are not worth it, too many perfumes, not enough time… It is just that there is something about these perfumes that attracts me very much.

    Dzing! is another fragrance, upon which I am glad I did not give up! February 19, 2011 at 5:31pm Reply

  • Musette: I am a great lover of Mitsouko, Parure and Fracas (and the beautiful Carnal Flower)! I wear them all the time (and I hope I wear them well – at least nobody’s thrown anything at me or given me the stinkeye). Given that, I would expect to love L’Heure Bleue. I would be wrong. I hate it, like a mongoose hates a snake. I can tolerate it in thinner concentrations; in parfum it makes me want to saw my arm off!

    The other one I ‘should’ love…but don’t? Apres l’Ondee.

    I can’t understand why I dislike them both so much. Both of them contain all the notes I love. But …..I dunno…such a mystery.

    xo February 19, 2011 at 7:49pm Reply

  • Victoria: I can see why you would dislike both L’Heure Bleue and Apres L’Ondee, since they share many similarities. Maybe, it is the sweetness paired with the heady orange blossom-jasmine richness that makes it difficult? Or the heavy, powdery drydown? February 19, 2011 at 9:38pm Reply

  • Winifrieda: I just adore these discussions! Like perfume, I just cannot get enough!
    Bandit is probably the humungous thing that I am still struggling with, and she belongs to the family, leather, that represents my last frontier.
    And yet, when I am having a desultory roam around the world’s perfume etailers laet at night, looking for the thrill of an impulse buy, I often hover over Bandit. Its a darn shame I live in the Australian bush and cannot get myself to perfume counters to get these bugs out of the system, by inordinate sample spraying! February 20, 2011 at 1:13am Reply

  • Melanie: I find Bal A Versailles challenging, we have a love/hate relationship. I am guessing it’s the civet note. On good days, it is the most gorgeous floriental ever. Rich, decadent, I can’t stop sniffing my wrists. On the other hand, there are times when it seems like too much and makes me nauseous. February 20, 2011 at 5:43am Reply

  • Victoria: I have this experience with many vintage orientals. Some days these animalic notes are really too much. Yet, they are so memorable! February 20, 2011 at 10:09am Reply

  • Victoria: I have a few perfumes like that, the ones I stalk on etailers' sites! Hermes Rouge, for instance. Another one of my love-hate fragrances!
    I agree, these discussions are so much fun!! February 20, 2011 at 10:16am Reply

  • Musette: I think it’s the heavy, powdery drydown. I’m all about the heady jasmine and can even handle a certain sweetness. But too-heavy powder ooks me out (Teinte de Neige nearly killed me stone-dead and vintage No 22…yikes!!!!) I think that’s why I can handle L’HB in edt but not parfum.

    xo February 20, 2011 at 2:04pm Reply

  • axum: Winifreda, I sympathise! I wonder how many of us are in this boat, tantalised by fragrance but far (so far) from a perfume counter, and beyond the realms of free (or at least cheap) postage? February 20, 2011 at 4:00pm Reply

  • Victoria: Have you tried it recently? It is now much less powdery, esp in the EDT. I know some who prefer it this way, although I admit that I miss the old one. February 20, 2011 at 4:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: I can sympathize, because for years I've lived in towns where the nearest perfume counter was Macy's in a neighboring state! February 20, 2011 at 4:20pm Reply

  • Bo: I’ve had the same experience with MKK. It feels like a fuzzy, warm, salty comfort sent! February 20, 2011 at 5:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, salty! A perfect descriptor for me, because MKK smells like skin after a long day at the beach. Or maybe, old furs at a vintage clothing store… Such an evocative scent! February 20, 2011 at 5:21pm Reply

  • Nora: I’m a perfume freak and I have experience with qiute a lot of perfumes. During the years I reailized that there are some fragrances which I could not wear no matter how many times I give them a try. I have tried Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue several times but there is something in these perfumes which I cannot tolerate, what’s more I find them unwearable.Also, I couldn’t wear Bandit and the same thing happens to me in case of most chypre perfumes.
    Honestly, I don’t understand why people rave about Teint de Neige. For me it’s nothing but powder, an old lady-like fragrance.
    Victoria, I’m so happy that you have a new post every day, I can’t wait to read them. Congratulations, they are all fantastic! February 20, 2011 at 5:27pm Reply

  • Victoria: Nora, you know, those perfumes were not instant loves for me either. It took me a while to appreciate them, but then again, I did not really try. It is just that one day I put on Mitsouko, and suddenly it was perfect.
    Maybe, it is strange, but powdery fragrances like Teint de Neige are associated with dance studios for me, because in the US, powdery accords are used to scent various talcum powders (Johnson & Johnson). Many dancers use them in their pointe shoes. It is my first association when I smell Teint de Neige now! February 20, 2011 at 8:31pm Reply

  • kathie: Issey miyake so stong and overpowering for me. Francis Kurkdjian Absolu pour la Matin smells like insect repellent on me. February 21, 2011 at 2:56am Reply

  • Victoria: L’Eau d’Issey is certainly powerful!! I can smell it from a good distance. February 21, 2011 at 10:33am Reply

  • ScentScelf: Interesting you should mention Parure, because I started that wrestling match within the past year. So far, I haven’t made much progress. But further delving into this willingness to grapple, and then seeing Elisa’s comment below, reminds me of certain fragrances that have been nearly revolting on the first pass, and which do not inspire me to step back into the ring. For me, MKK is such a scent. The first time I smelled it, it was on somebody else’s skin…my head nearly snapped back in attempt to get away. Needless to say, it does not register as “salty after beach skin scent” to me. If it did, there wouldn’t even be a need for a pretend tussle. 😉

    I’d rather deal with the fetid element in Rose Poivree. Which may be an indicator of how our noses/psyches/what have you are individually stamped. 🙂 February 21, 2011 at 11:47am Reply

  • ScentScelf: Okay, here is a further juncture at which to observe some sorting. L’Heure Bleu was an instant and enduring love; Apres L’Ondee took a little time, not because it was *difficult* at first, but because it seemed like an Emperor without any clothes. Then I understood what I was “seeing”…and it is beautiful.

    On the other hand, as noted above, Mitsouko and Parure have yet to enter my affections. Which means Musette and I have a schism in our mutual loves chart, and might perhaps point to an essential something that is either draw or repulsion in each.

    We each bring our own demons to our experiences, don’t we? 🙂 February 21, 2011 at 11:52am Reply

  • Victoria: Sometimes these likes and dislikes are really not logical! I cannot agree more with you when you say that we each bring our own demons to our experiences. February 21, 2011 at 1:24pm Reply

  • Victoria: I fully admit that I may be an outlier in my perception of MKK. It is interesting to smell with other people, because we each have our own sensitivities. I once had a teacher who was so sensitive to indole, he would pick out the tiniest amounts of it in any formula. February 21, 2011 at 1:28pm Reply

  • Hannah: I’ve tried to love Bvlgari Black for a long time now, but it doesn’t agree with me at all. It dries down to the most sickening smell i’ve ever tried. Bandit and Gucci, on the other hand, i love, and i haven’t given up on Mitsouko yet. February 22, 2011 at 9:23am Reply

  • Victoria: Black’s drydown can be so difficult to bear, that rubbery-dark and sweet note. It is interesting, but I can see how it can be challenging. February 22, 2011 at 11:07am Reply

  • Debbie: I have a strange relationship with Bandit. I adore the fragrance, was instantly obsessed and knew I had to own a bottle. Although it’s in my Top 5, I find it so challenging to wear; there never seems to be an appropriate occasion or environment. I treat it more like a piece of art and experience it from time to time when I’m staying in on my own, appreciating the genius of the composition – but from afar, not as a partnership of me and the fragrance. Many years ago Teatro alla Scala by Krizia threw down that same gauntlet.

    Recently Prada’s L’Eau Ambree has thrown me. I love the opening 10 minutes then it morphs into a hideous hybrid, one part wet dog, one part nursing home. And not just on me – these are the smells I pick up when anyone wears it. February 22, 2011 at 3:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: Now, you’ve made me curious about Prada’s L’Eau Ambree! I do not remember it that well, but for some reason “wet dog” intrigues me. Perhaps, it is a costus note, which many describe as smelling of wet dog. February 22, 2011 at 5:14pm Reply

  • Debbie: V, I am willing to concede that it may be some sort of weird association that has me pegging it as “wet dog”! One rarely reads a bad review of it – ambivalence seems about as bad as it gets, although “old lady” has been mentioned a few times. I can sniff it out at 100 yards though, always looking for the canine culprit or some old, discarded dog blanket until several seconds later the penny drops and I recognise it as L’Eau Ambree. February 22, 2011 at 6:09pm Reply

  • ND!: I love Miel de Bois and so does my boyfriend?!
    But, there is definitely a but, ONLY as a winter fragrance.
    The confusing animalistic waft of honey you get from it while wearing it outside on a cold Norwegian wintersday is truly mesmerizing. I tried to wear it in the summer and also when going out, and it smelled much like you mentioned… a back alley or the “powder room”.
    But for a few cold winter months its the most interesting craving,honey sweet but with a dirty agenda 😉 February 23, 2011 at 2:38am Reply

  • Victoria: Ok, that I can definitely see! In the winter it would be much more palatable for me too. I just did not persevere with it enough.
    My animalic favorite Muscs Koublai Khan likewise behaves badly in the summer. February 23, 2011 at 7:34am Reply

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  • spe in Perfume in the Library : The Pillow Book: Thank you! I’ve always liked that Lutens, along with A La Nuit. For a brief moment, myrrh scents fascinated me, but they ultimately weren’t lively enough. In fact, there is… September 25, 2016 at 1:56pm

  • Roky in Apple Perfumes for Autumn (and Anytime): 🙂 … nice one, yep. I’m also loving it on my ladyfriend. The rose is dark red and wine-like, the apples are those red-yellow, spicy-earthy type and ripe ones with… September 25, 2016 at 1:47pm

  • Victoria in Perfume in the Library : The Pillow Book: Not obvious, because in perfumery both are made from similar building blocks. Un Lys by Lutens, perhaps? September 25, 2016 at 11:55am

  • Elisa in Apple Perfumes for Autumn (and Anytime): Thank you Aurora! As of this weekend in Colorado, there’s a distinct chill in the air and leaves are starting to fall and I’m really getting in the fall mood! September 25, 2016 at 11:41am

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