Aerin, the lifestyle brand of Aerin Lauder, recently presented five fragrances: Gardenia Rattan, Amber Musk, Lilac Path, Ikat Jasmine and Evening Rose. So what can you expect from the collection? Each fragrance is built around a distinctive theme and painted with delicate, pastel tones. The word that comes to mind is tasteful.
At first, I was a little disappointed to find such mild-mannered blends, but the more I wore the perfumes, the more the collection made sense as the scent equivalent of pret-a-porter. Wearing these perfumes is like slipping into a cashmere dress or silk camisole, a garment that may not look flamboyant but that makes you feel wonderful. The perfumes are not dramatic, to be sure, but they are a pleasure to wear.
While the perfumes don’t come cheap, Lauder didn’t skimp on high-grade materials when making Aerin’s collection. For instance, Evening Rose contains beautiful rose absolute and Amber Musk features a particularly luscious musk note. Overall, it’s a good fit with Aerin Lauder’s understated aesthetic and emphasis on quality. But if you want haute couture drama and panache, you’ll probably have to look elsewhere.
It’s fun to experience a warm rose dressed in incense and dark woods as both rich and transparent. This seems like an impossible feat, but in the hands of perfumer Honorine Blanc-Hattab, Evening Rose does just that. The perfume starts out shimmering and bright–a sorbet of lychee sprinkled with pink pepper, but within moments you notice the velvety layers of red roses and sandalwood. The lingering finish of amber and incense retains the soft sensation, and you get to enjoy it for hours. Imagine Frédéric Malle’s Portrait of a Lady made lighter and fizzier, and you have Evening Rose. My favorite from the collection.
Another sultry perfume theme made soft and luminous and another beauty from perfumer Honorine Blanc-Hattab. Amber Musk blends crisp amber with creamy coconut and rose in an effortlessly elegant blend with a touch of decadence. A magnolia leaf–an essence that smells like fuzzy lavender stems and ripe apricots–cuts through the richness of the musk and resins that give the perfume its curvy shape. A subtle hint of toasted hazelnuts and caramel adds a gourmand accent, although Amber Musk doesn’t smell edible. Sexy though it may be, it also feels cuddly and comforting.
The gardenia here is the barely opened buds, with a sticky green sap covering the waxy petals. As Gardenia Rattan develops, it gives you a glimpse of jasmine and tuberose, but all of them are sheer and radiant. What saves it from banality is a salty, marine note that makes the perfume seem as if the flowers were dipped in sea foam. A beautifully crafted perfume, but you can find a similar idea in Annick Goutal’s Un Matin d’Orage, a marine frangipani, and Marc Jacobs for Her.
Inspired by Aerin Lauder’s grandmother, Lilac Path is as romantic as lilac can be. The danger with lilac scents is that all too often they come across as something that should be scenting your laundry or bathroom, rather than your own person. Lilac Path is so impeccably put together that it really smells like fresh lilac blossoms and nothing else. But after an hour, its primness makes me listless, and I reach for another less-behaved perfume to layer over Lilac Path. One might as well go for Pacifica’s French Lilac (a simple budget lilac) or Frédéric Malle’s En Passant (an impressionist rain-drenched lilac etude).
“Intended to personify a modern woman” says the press release, and I suppose that it’s true, if the modern woman in mind is a Bergdorf Blonde. If it’s possible for a perfume to be too tasteful and too polished, then Ikat Jasmine accomplishes that. Technically, it’s lovely, and it’s enjoyable as it skips lightly from gardenia to tuberose to honeysuckle to form a light veil of white petals on skin. But when compared with so many excellent jasmines out there, from Serge Lutens’s A La Nuit to Kilian’s Love and Tears, it doesn’t stand out. If I’m ready to pay luxury prices, at the very least I want my perfume to be memorable and distinctive.
Aerin Gardenia Rattan, Amber Musk, Lilac Path, Ikat Jasmine and Evening Rose are available as Eau de Parfum. 50 ml, $110.
Extra: please also see Robin’s reviews at Now Smell This.