“Scarlett” by Cacharel

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Category: Floral woody musk

Notes: pear, tea leaf, lemon, jasmine, african orange flower, honeysuckle, musk, sandalwood, honey.

The Bottle: A bit odd, but full marks for the effect of a lacy slip with just a little scandal and fire poking out underneath. It may be a little plasticky, but the peek-a-boo playfulness of it wins me over. ****

The Fragrance: An interesting concept, this one was supposedly created as a tribute to the ballsy southern O’Hara who shares its name. And fair enough – sweet southern honeysuckle and just a hint of delicate tea bring some refinement to the top pear note. I see the corsets and lace. But where are the fire and fiddlesticks and not-giving-of-damns? The second (some would say more characteristic) part of this heroine’s personality is her stubbornness and flaring temper, neither of which are effectively conveyed to us by Scarlett. There is no jarring presence here, nothing to wake us up and make us feel as though we’ve been slapped by a Southern belle in a rage. I hoped for a hint of mint julep or brandy, or at the very least a spicy and unapologetic floral presence somewhere in the mix. It’s alright, really, but requires a little less charm and a whole lot more sass. ****

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“Loverdose” by Diesel

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Category: Oriental Vanilla

Notes: Mandarin orange, star anise, licorice, jasmine, gardenia, amber, vanilla, woodsy blend.

The Bottle: An interesting spin on a rather tired design (Let’s lie the heart on its SIDE!), but purple gets me every time. ***

The Fragrance: A suspicious (and lingering) resemblance to the original Lolita Lempicka immediately raised my eyebrows (the star anise, vanilla and licorice combo being the culprit), and frankly soured me on the whole experience. It’s not that I hate Lolita – it’s that I love her so far past the point that most people would consider reasonable, I’m ready to make her my child bride. This being the case, all other similar scents seem but a pale imitation, the fragrant equivalent of abandoning the love of your life for his sickly, timid cousin. Loverdose draws you in with beckoning warmth and an almost creamy, almondy base. But no sooner has it delivered its welcoming caress than it evaporates, leaving behind only a distant suspicion of amber and wood. Its been done, my loves, and done better. ***

“Frisson Neiges” by Lise Watier

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Category: Floral Fruity

Notes: Papaya, passionfruit, honeysuckle, tuberose, jasmine absolue, cashmeran, sandalwood, musk.

The Bottle: Someone took a glue stick and glitter to the original Neiges bottle. I’m all for sparkle, but this just looks a bit Eau de Craft Fair. **

The Fragrance: Hardly a fan of the original Neiges, perhaps I did Frisson a disservice when I approached this flanker with bias firmly in place. But then, I HATE papaya. Hate the taste, hate the smell. Also, for some reason, I experienced a bizarre (and absent from the listed notes) banana top note that lasted and lasted. The heart pays predictable homage to the original Neiges (a bit of a clumsy leap from a highly fruity top) with a heavy white floral, where it lingers until the sandalwood begins to drift in. As someone who leads a resolutely papaya-free existence, it’s predictable that this one offends me. Might someone less discerning else like it? Perhaps. Just keep it far from me, if you please. ***

“Dolce Vita” by Dior

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Category: Woody Oriental

Notes: Lily, peach, grapefruit, bergamot, rose, cardamom, apricot, cinnamon, heliotrope,  magnolia, brazilian rosewood, coconut, vanilla, cedar, sandalwood.

The Bottle: Much more playful and bubbly than the average Dior offering, yet still tasteful. Rather innocent and fresh, in fact. Stamp of approval. ****

The Fragrance: The opening has a delicate lemony-verbena quality to it, which is a nice surprise – I expected more of a citrus punch in the nose what with the grapefruit and bergamot. This is more of a playful slap. Despite the myriad of sweet floral and fruit notes supposedly included in the composition, I found this to be a very green, softly citrus experience from top to bottom. In fact, I wished for a little more sweetness to balance out the zest and chlorophyl. The cardamom and cinnamon (which might have brought some needed complexity to the top) go missing, and I couldn’t detect any coconut at all in the base. This is a soft spring day, lovely in its own way, but hardly what I was expecting. ****

“Rebelle” by Rihanna

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Category: Floral Fruity Gourmand

Notes: Plum, strawberry, ginger, cacao, heliotrope, orchid, amber, musk, patchouli, coffee.

The Bottle: A bold, bossy looking thing that shoots for brassy charm, and succeeds only in being wholly unimpressive. Not sleek, not playful, not saucy and certainly not terribly rebellious.   **

The Fragrance: Hardly a stunner, but to dismiss it as mere celebrity fruit juice would be to miss out on a pleasant, spirited little piece that comes on spicy from the top. The opening sharp ginger and plum make strange bedfellows, but those who bear with them will eventually be introduced to a light, peppery coffee framed by a woody patchouli. These two notes own the scent most of the way through, softening but never subsiding completely. Rebelle plummets from top to base without dwelling much on its heart (the orchid is almost non-existent), and eventually – post spicy coffee – lands squarely in aimless fruity musk territory. Not a bad ride. ***

“Taj Sunset” by Escada

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Category: Floral Fruity

Notes: Mango, blood orange, nectarine, lotus, water lily, star apple, raspberry, coconut, sandalwood, musk.

The Bottle: While the shape’s not up to much, I rather like the intricate little floral design, and the way that the bottle appears to glow from within. Not terribly imaginative, but pretty enough to be getting on with. My major quarrel with Escada, however, is not their bottle design, but their continued testing of their products on animals (most other fragrance companies have halted this practice).  ***

The Fragrance: Distinctly tropical and radiating an almost tangible warmth, this fragrance indeed evokes a sunset in the far east. The lotus and water lily add a softly exotic, lightly aquatic note to what is mostly an uncomplicated bouquet of juicy citrus fruits. The coconut is present only after some time has passed, with the mango and blood orange stealing center stage at the outset, and refusing to relinquish it. To me, the raspberry and star apple are imperceptible, but perhaps this is for the best. Any more strong sweet fruit, and this scent would become rather unbalanced. ****

“Mon Jasmin Noir” by Bvlgari

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Category: Floral Woody Musk

Notes: Citrus Blend, lily of the valley, jasmine, nougat, cedar, patchouli, musk

The Bottle: The flawlessly stylish Parisian cousin of Bvlgari pour Femme. An interestingly drape-like, fabric-esque effect is captured in the curving facets of the glass, and complimented by a tasteful touch of ribbon at the neck. Stunningly presented and solid without the dreaded clunkiness of some of its brothers and sisters. ****

The Fragrance: Creamy and beautifully textured, but falls flat for me because I’m simply not a fan of heavy-handed jasmine. The nougat is delicate and soft, a sweet and unusual backdrop that casts the more mundane notes in a flattering, sophisticated light. The citrus blend leans towards a clean, lightly bracing lemon, and freshens the opening nicely. Lovely on the right Diva, but the over-generous bouquet of jasmine is enough to make me wrinkle my nose just a little bit. ***

“Wonderstruck” by Taylor Swift

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Category: floral Fruity

Notes: Tea, freesia, blackberry, raspberry, apple blossom, vanilla, hibiscus, honeysuckle, peach, musk, sandalwood, amber.

The Bottle: A Lilac-y gold kitsch nightmare, encircled by a cringe-worthy charm bracelet. A design which attempts to pay homage to the classic flacons of Morocco instead insults them by embodying everything they do not. This is overly ornamented, stubby, cheap and crass. **

The Fragrance: A tolerable berry-vanilla yawn that lasts and lasts. Nothing wrong with it (unless you are seeking depth, complexity or sophistication), nothing remarkable about it. The tea and blackberry make for a decent opener, but soon give way to the all- encompassing sugary quicksand of the vanilla and peach. The base notes stay buried, and by so doing fail to coax any interesting depth into the rather synthetic smelling mixture. Save your money, my Loves,  and buy a berry-scented body mist at the drugstore. **

“Pleasures Delight” by Estée Lauder

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Category: Floral Fruity Gourmand

Notes: Pomegranate, freesia, wild strawberry, lily, peony, heliotrope, lily of the valley, patchouli, vanilla, marshmallow, rose and caramel.

The Bottle:Classic pink and silver, a truly ladylike silhouette (read: just a little boring). But then, Estée Lauder has never been one to take design risks. ***

The Fragrance: Liquid Valentine’s Day (hence the timing of this review). Candy-coated floral giddiness that lays it on just a little thick. Even as a fan of some intensely sweet perfumes (and, um, sweets) this still strikes me as a little over the top in terms of its potential to rot your teeth on contact. The caramel and marshmallow lead the charge, with the pomegranate and strawberry hard on their heels. The syrupy grenade of the first ten minutes eventually reduces to a burningly sugary vanilla with a hesitant floral halo floating around its edges. Spray away, extra-girly Darlings, but sparingly, please. ***

“Fan Di Fendi” by Fendi

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Category: Floral Fruity

Notes: Tangerine, pear, black currant, rose, jasmine, tuberose, leather, patchouli

The Bottle: Pompous luxury in gold. This packaging rather insists upon itself, and does so without any particular flare. Harshly geometric, metallic, and dull, it even manages to exude a bit of a macho air. A bit cold, really. **

The Fragrance: Rather a sultry surprise, if one can get past the blazing, insistent tangerine that shoves immediately to the fore. Rather unusually for this scent category, the eventual drydown is foxy and brazen, with the leather whipping the softer florals into shape. Tuberose continues to push through, softening the tangerine, which in turn is kept at bay by a lightly spicy patchouli, and the warm, animalistic pulse of the leather. Excellent lasting power, but not for the faint of heart… or for those attempting to impress the in-laws. One might as well show up in a leopard-print bustier and stilettos… which, let me hasten to add, I have never done. Not even twice. ****