Perfume Pen Pals: Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely and Comme des Garcons Avignon


Katie,

My feelings for Tauer Perfumes L'Air du Desert Marocain are similar to my feelings for the Doors: I'd be less against it if people weren't all so gung-ho for it. Sarah Jessica Parker likes dry, dirty, masculine scents. You'll learn that when you read Burr’s The Perfect Scent. Still, I didn't imagine her going for L'Air du Desert. Have you tried Lovely, by the way? I say this with the expectation that it will go no further and if you repeat it and it comes back to me, I will deny it and call you a liar, but I own a bottle and it's very nice. I'm a little self-conscious about wearing it, not because it's girly (though it is), but because it's so popular, I fear it'll be recognizable. Maybe I should layer. But what does one layer with Lovely? I don't even know what Lovely is. It's just sweet and pleasant and well balanced. I think there are some flowers in there. But mostly it smells like cotton candy. What layers well with cotton candy?

Dan


Daniel Jessica,

What a wonderful secret to share, and I'm so glad you did. Turns out I was right on the money when I characterized Thundra as "too butch" for you. And there you were, doing the whole "the lady doth protest too much" routine.

I sampled Lovely recently, and was pleasantly surprised at how beautifully calibrated it was. That was after I'd blown out my nose-drums on Jean Paul Gaultier Ma Dame and Aquolina Pink Sugar.

Katie


Katie,

Yes, I concede I don't like many butch scents. Or many male scents. They smell cheap and simple. Or harsh and simple. Or heavy and simple. Like men, basically. But when you read the Burr book you'll see that SJP wanted Lovely to be unisex. And several have said it works well as a unisex. So I bought it blind out of curiosity and was surprised how not unisex it was. Still, it IS restrained and tasteful, perfectly balanced. I can't imagine an inexpensive celebrity scent working any better. And this one was actually directed by the celebrity. (As you'll read, SJP is a real perfume aficionado and had a legitimate role in the perfume's creation.) I wish I could wear it more but I do feel a little self-conscious.

I layered today! I wore Eau d’Italie Sienna l'Hiver because it's cold and raining. Like all the Eau d'Italie scents, it's bone dry, a little mind over soul. So I added another Duchafour scent, Comme des Garçons Calamus, which is a sweet milky green, mild and pleasant. And it worked! It really worked. The two blended perfectly together. It smelled as if I had added a light touch of smoke and incense to Calamus, which was just wonderful. Wow. Maybe I can layer something with Lovely and make it less obviously Lovely.

Dan


Dan,

I like hearing about your Mad Scientist perfume activities. This is a blind mix suggestion, but what about layering your Lovely with a bit of your Dzing! sample? Layering it with leather would make the petal-power more complex. Try and see!

While I haven't yet read The Perfect Scent, I do know about SJP's creation process - read about it in Burr's New York Times column, I believe. I perked right up at SJP’s own little layering recipe: Comme des Garçons Avignon, Bonne Bell Skin Musk, and some Egyptian Goddess-type musk oil. I already was hooked on Avignon, so of course I bustled right over to the five & dime to procure Skin Musk. I liked the musk ok, but I'm not really Mrs. Solo-Musk. Don't mind if it's in there somewhere, but....

Of course I was really interested to smell Lovely after learning what inspired it, and when I first did, I was very confused at the lack of connection. But like I said, when I revisited it the other day, I enjoyed it for what it was.

I’ve heard that SJP orders monthly bottles of Tauer L'air Du Desert Marocain. And the perfumer she's working with ordered a box of it! Might there be some eau de Tauer in the next SJP creation? Who knows, maybe the creation committee can flesh out that "one man in a room" perfume!

Katie


Katie,

Oh, here's something I haven't told you (perfume category only, of course): I had a perfume made for me by that dude at Profumo. I chose all the ingredients (I picked eleven things and just hoped for the best) and tried for a very elegant green lavender. And, miraculously, that's exactly what I got. It's very nice. Except it smells just like several other very nice green lavenders, which cost much less than having some fellow in Italy construct something especially for me. So now every time I smell a very nice green lavender (By Kilian A Taste of Heaven, for example), I assume it, too, is especially for me. I called it "Lavanda Rosa" (which cost me a good deal of ribbing from friends when they realized it sounded like "The Ponderosa"), except the Italian fellow at Profumo thought I called it that because he's Italian and he translated it back to English. So when my bottle arrived, it had the decidedly less poetic-sounding name "Lavender Rose." Oh, and because all of the ingredients are natural, the lifespan of the scent is extremely short-lived.

I have no more Dzing! (Sorry, the exclamation is part of the name. I don't want you to think I'm yelling at you.) I've gotten samples twice, used them, and still have no real recollection of the scent. I know I didn't find it as special as some people do, but I also know I liked it enough to wear it all both times. Maybe that'll be my second LuckyScent buy this week. Or first. I'm considering not getting M. Micallef Note Vanillée because I want to try Jean-Claude Ellena's Hermessence Vanille Galante first. (Nobody needs too many vanillas.) My wish list is so huge, it's like looking through a list of half the store's inventory. It's useless.

I heard Sarah Jessica Parker’s next scent is apparently going to be the animalic unisex she wanted to make in the first place. The marketers didn't want her name on a unisex considering her fan-base is almost entirely female, but I guess Lovely has done so well, she has some bargaining power. (Though I've heard almost nothing about the follow-up Covet, except that my friend Jill tried it and said it was terrible.) Maybe I'll try to layer Lovely with Avignon. Though that might make my skin explode.

Dan


Katie,

This morning I did the unthinkable: I layered Avignon with Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely (I like typing out the whole name). Now it's only been about 30 minutes so I don't want to get over-enthusiastic, but I think I just came upon the most incredible combination of scents. Ever. As you might imagine, Avignon is quite a bit more potent than Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely so one spray of each leaves you smelling only a vaguely sweeter Avignon. But two sprays of Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely to one spray of Avignon, wow, it's like eating cotton candy at church, wholesome and forbidden at the same time. It's the Kettle Korn of scents. No, it's the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups of scents! Yep, it's that good. It smells like both a warm summer night and a cool winter night. It's jasmine and smoke. Jasmine and smoke! What a concept.

The one catch is, after 33 minutes, I can already feel the Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely fading behind the Avignon. It's like she considers it her duty to walk a pace or two behind her husband and you can't convince her it's 2009 and she has full license to be right up there alongside him. So I'm losing her a little bit. Maybe a three-to-one ratio would work better. But then you're getting into some serious heavy perfume territory. I'm going to figure this one out. Because it's worth it. For the perfume world, for women's rights, for bringing together light and dark, hell, for world peace. Because this can translate into big, big things, I'm certain of it.

Dan


Dan,

Seeeeeeeee? Now you get where I'm coming from with layering Avignon with L'Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia, which is ashy cotton candy vanilla. Good scientific breakthrough at the lab for you!

OK! Off to review Carnal Flower.

Katie


Katie,

L’Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia is probably a better bet for Avignon because it's more potent than Lovely, which hasn't held up at all. I'm back to smelling like Avignon. It's as sad and tragic as that dude in Awakenings.

Carnal Flower, huh? Have you tried Fracas? I own that one and I find one tuberose is plenty. Most days, it's one too many. Plus, I have Tom Ford Private Blend Velvet Gardenia, which also gives out a good dose of tuberose. They're among my strongest perfumes. I wonder how Carnal Flower compares. I've never smelled it. See, I'm going to learn something from your review. Don't share in advance. Just let me watch and learn and pretend like I have no correspondence with YouTube's perfume pundit.

OK, this layering business is very strange: at first Lovely faded and it was all Avignon, but then Avignon softened and Lovely re-emerged. I can still smell both!

This entire email makes me feel like a big nerd. I'm going to try to do something un-nerdy now.

Dan

11 comments:

  1. Dan, your comment that Lovely smells like cotton candy makes me think you should pair it with other carnival-ly scents. Eau de Corndog? Or perhaps, Funnel Cake d'parfum? No - two sweets are too sweet! Well, I am sure you will figure out the right fair fragrance!

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  2. Pino, while I like Lovely very much, I'd ironically gone about layering it with something that would disguise its unabashed sweetness. Which was difficult because it didn't stand up to the Eau de Corndogs of the world. Even the ones without the mustard accord. So I've decided to wear Lovely à la carte and the first person who smells it and makes a snarky remark, well, that person had better be ready to step outside. Sarah Jessica Parker would be proud of me. And what more could a man want?

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  3. Dan-Have you tried Narciso Rodriguez for Her EDT? It came before Lovely and the two smell *very* similar. I find NR to be Lovely without manners: less sweet, more harsh and musky.

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  4. Thanks opusgrrl. I have seen NR for Her compared with Lovely. So you're saying my most satisfying Lovely layering strategy might be to do away with Lovely and wear NR instead? That's imaginative! I'll try it.

    I remember Katie calling NR "a perfume with petticoats" (http://www.katiepuckriksmells.com/2009/01/for-her-by-narciso-rodriguez.html). I hope she didn't mean that literally because it's embarrassing enough having all these girlie fragrances on my shelf. How would I explain the petticoats?

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  5. Dan, don't explain - accessorize, dahling!

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  6. Katie, what are your thoughts on Covet and Stella in Two Peony?

    I would love to hear from you!

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  7. nadine - I've just shaken my head like a Magic 8 Ball, but no thoughts on the aforementioned perfumes have emerged. I've smelled these SJPs a few times in passing, but have not properly investigated.

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  8. I am in love with Covet from SJP. In the first 10 minutes it is very possible to hate the smell (I do-it is too much lemon going on for me), but after the fragrance develops I would be able to bite myself. It is a fragrance that was intended to be a unisex one, but ended up in being a sophisticated, fresh female fragrance. It is not a perfume for everyone, I would say it is the type of perfume that one loves it or hates it.

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  9. Dana - a "bite yourself" perfume? Hell yeah! I've not yet tried Covet, but I know I'll get there.

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  10. Okay, I know this is an old post, but I just couldn't keep quiet. Like Katie, I feel that Lovely is indeed a shockingly unisex venture; unlike Dan, I get no ounce of girliness in this juice. If there were even a trace of cotton candy in Lovely I'd run for the hills, and I say that as a devoted Angel wearer. To my nose, Lovely is a soft, downy musk with almost no added sugar, a restrained floral edge, and a deliciously animalic, retro-sexy undercarriage. It brings to my mind the far drydown of one of those floral chypres my grandmother would have worn circa '72, only freshened up for the modern age and a wider market. I find it rich and full-bodied, but elemental and restrained; a simple, accomplished pleasure in a world full of Trying Too Hard. And did I mention the unisex? You can't tell me that Lovely is undeniably more feminine than, say, Stetson, Old Spice, or Jovan for Men. I mean, you could TRY, but you'd fail. Bonus: Miles cheaper than Narciso Rodriguez, and, frankly, a superior fragrance. (Yeah, I said it. Narciso is crude by comparison, and its nuclear orange blossom drives me up the wall.)

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  11. Thanks for adding million-dollar value to this post, Darryl! That was quite an outburst, and I thank you for it.

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