Mother's Day Perfume Picks

With Mother's Day coming up, we're all searching for the perfect little luxury to lay on Mom this coming Sunday. Nothing says “perfect little luxury” better than perfume (just ask the guy the By Kilian associate was telling me about -- the one who purchased an entire cask of Liaisons Dangereuses for his yacht.)

By Kilian's giant perfume cask: giant St. Bernard not included.

Mom doesn't need a yacht to get away from it all -- a new perfume is already a vacation in a bottle. Wearing an unfamiliar scent shakes things up most delightfully: a new fume allows you to express a different side of yourself, to try on a new persona. It wakes you up to your possibilities.

Frisk up Mom's possibilities with one of these:

Chanel No. 5 Eau Première -- jeans with heels
This is the younger, sheerer interpretation of Chanel No. 5's classic abstract floral: fizzy, but still sophisticated.

Eau Première is available from starting at $64 for 40 ml

Jo Malone Orange Blossom -- happy sunshiney smell
Bright orange blossoms with a sweet melange of florals (“I smell honeysuckle!” is what the husb proclaims whenever I wear this.)

Orange Blossom is available from starting at $105 for 100 ml

Estée Lauder Sensuous -- womanly but playful
Perfect for those who don't like overt flowers in their perfume. Milky sandalwood and spicy, syrupy amber.

Sensuous is available from,, and, starting at appx $32 for 30ml

Stella McCartney Stella -- clean and dirty all at once
Mysterious salty/musky rose: subtly sexy and a little dark.

Stella is available from and, starting at $50 for 50 ml

Anyone out there planning a perfume present for Mom? Any notable fragrance failures from past Mother's Days?


  1. Anything that is not Lush Karma is a failure for my mother, Katie!
    Excellent choices, BTW:)



  2. Dear Katie:

    I tried, oh how I tried to make it through your current talk show segment, but my hindbrain reared up and tore my consciousness away from it halfway through. I believe this may be the most ardent display of "Fight or Flight" response my nervous system has ever manufactured.

    The hosts on that show - they, they...what they do, say...did with the tester strips...AIEEEEEEEEEE!


    Still under the bed, shivering. Mom-in-law likes L'air du Temp and nothing else. Please send help.

  3. Well, I made it through the talk show segment and now I'm seriously considering a purchase of doilies---for me! Female host: "It's like the moms, have you smelled some of the moms? With all due respect, love moms. But the ones that have perfume from 1960 something?"

    Harumph! And I was thinking about giving my mom one of my coveted bottles of uber-vintage Chanel No 5.

  4. My mom wants something rosy, so I'm getting her Rose Essentielle from Bvlgari. I'm getting Serge's Cedre for myself and also running over to a spa where I hear they carry the Sweet Anthem (etsy) line!

  5. My mom's all set on perfume, and everything else, so I'll make a charitable donation in her name. ^_^

  6. My mom's all-time fave is Shalimar. She is a lady with taste and class. Love you, Mom.

  7. I can't watch that video on my ipad. Weird!

  8. Sabrina -- Lush Karma, huh? The lady loves her orange patchouli! I wore that for a spell, and though my then-boyfriend would protest violently about it, everywhere we went I got compliments. Always from young women.

    ~elise -- that is full smorgasbord of smells. Lovely!

    xaryax -- Marvelous idea!

    Nora -- Lucky you to have such a beautiful scent to associate with such a beautiful lady.

  9. Stefush and melisand61 -- (*cue Lurch groan*) I did crack up at that blithely conditional "with all due respect, love moms. But..."

    In this particular scenario, I believe a little more respect is still due from our girl Shally. Anyway, out of the "fight or flight options", only "fight" was available to me on, so I battled the segment through to the end.

    m61, I'm sure your mother will truly appreciate a bottle of vintage No. 5. But if you're ever inclined to gift Shally, it's Coco Mademoiselle all the way.

  10. Maggie, can you watch my other videos on your iPad? This one is embedded from YouTube, same as the others. Let me know....

  11. I can watch your others just fine. Even on YT it says "this user does not support playback on ipad" or something to that effect.

  12. Maggie, thanks for alerting me to the problem. I just corrected it, and it should play fine now. Let me know if it's hunky dory on your end.

  13. So far I've given my mother Chloe (the new one - too strong for the African heat) and Idylle (perfect). Hopefully she'll be coming to Paris soon so I can treat her to a Frederic Malle or something equally extravagant. We're very open-minded in my family when it comes to fragrances so it'll be a fun shopping trip!

  14. amber, where does mother live in Africa? I love the idea of a Parisian perfume shopping trip!

  15. Huzzah! Success! Now to watch.

  16. Katie, let me know if you are too busy for my queries but I wanted to get perfume advice for my mom. I usually buy her perfumes because we both get migraines, and she will use it until it is gone, then wait for my next offering.

    A scent history on my Mütti:
    Her favorite perfume of all time is the disc tinued Blue Carnation. All scents in some way are measuring up to her memory and small bottle with a little scented powder she has squirreled away in her undies drawer.

    When I was very little she wore White Shoulders, she didn't like it, it just didn't bother her. Then she went on to Shalimar parfum. When she ran out, she never repurchased, and she liked it, but doesn't want another bottle. She wore Designs by Paul Sebastian when I was in high school, again because it didn't give her a headache.

    In recent years I have bought her several carnation oils, and most recently Bellodgia by Caron. She liked Bellodgia, but not enough for it to be repurchased.

    Sidenote:whenever I wear amber oil, she likes it, but she doesn't want to just smell like amber.

    Any suggestion for Mütti? I am willing to spend a bit on it, but There is always a chance she won't like it, so maybe not uber expensive.

  17. Maggie, I immediately thought of Carnation in the Comme des Garcons Red Series, and in fact, someone on the LuckyScent site describes it as the perfect replacement for Blue Carnation (which I've never smelled.)

    Have you encountered CdG Carnation in your travels? Does anyone else have any thought on Carnation/amber perfumes?

  18. Ah, Mother is sadly long gone - and our Mother's Day is also past, even were she extant - however, I reckon she might posthumously appreciate several of your picks. She was particularly fond of honeysuckle as a talc note, for example, though the only perfume I was aware of her wearing was Lentheric Tweed.

    Yes, Mother was a taupey/sludgey/slatey kind of person in terms of paint colours and soft furnishings, you see, and these tones may have crossed over into her fragrance preferences.

  19. Enjoyed your picks - winners all.

    Oh, fumey MD failures... two years ago, I gave my mom Eau Premiere. She's in her late 60s, and wore No. 5 edc when I was growing up, followed by a slew of "clean" florals like Anais Anais, Coty L'Effleur, Eliz Arden 5th Ave. Thought she'd love the EP.

    Nope. It smells like fruit salad on her. Shocking. Disappointing. (I replaced it with a small ebay bottle of No. 5 parfum - success!)

    Last year, gave my MIL - who never seems to wear perfume at all, but likes it on other people - a small bottle of Jo Malone Red Roses, thinking it would be easy to appreciate. Nope. She never wears it. (Recently gave her a mini bottle of Guerlain Bouquet Numero 1, and she loves it. I didn't go light enough, it seems.)

    You never know, unless a)Mom likes everything or b) she's specifically asked for a particular scent...

  20. You know, I didn't really appreciate the horror of what the female host was doing with the bottles the first time around. I have never seen anyone looking so unclassy smelling a perfume bottle before. She practically jqmmed the things up her nostril! I hope they weren't from your personal collection.

    Because ew.

  21. Vanessa, I like idea of linking clothes/home furnishings with one's perfume. Reading up online on the characteristics of Tweed is different to how I imagined it from the name. I couldn't get the image of Beryl Reid in "The Killing of Sister George" out of my head.

    muse, gosh, I would've thought Eau Premiere would have been a solid gone hit. How surprising! Re Red Roses: I've taken to spritzing it on whenever I pass the Jo Malone counter, and I'm always struck by how round and honeyed it is. I love that honey side to it! But I can imagine RR's emphatic rosiness putting it out of bounds for the tenderfoot perfume fan.

  22. Maggie, I'd forgotten about that! My violated bottles!

  23. Way to fight, Katie. You are a warrior!

  24. I, like Maggie, was completely creeped out by the way the female host put your bottles up her nose, like she even leaned back as if she wanted to drink the perfume with her nostrils. It was so weird! I was thinking, who would want to test with that now? Now that I know they were your stash, I feel bad. Someone should sit her down and give her a talking to!

    I wanted to report in that Chanel Eau de Premier is mom-approved!

    Also, Kenzo Jungle L'Elephant is a mom fail. >:D

  25. "You know, I didn't really appreciate the horror of what the female host was doing with the bottles the first time around. I have never seen anyone looking so unclassy smelling a perfume bottle before. She practically jqmmed the things up her nostril! I hope they weren't from your personal collection.

    Because ew."


  26. What was wrong with that woman? It was like she thought the bottles were neti pots. And she did distracting things, like flick her dry skin off her arm.

    Katie was poised and looked so lovely...such a contrast!

  27. N, I'm pleased to hear another Eau Premiere success story.

    Haha, Taffy: "neti pot." Geez, thanks for pointing out the dry skin flicking (which was immediately followed by nose scratching.)

    And to everyone's "ew" -- yeah, I don't know why Shally was so squirmy and unfocused. All the commenters on my YouTube channel are similarly appalled, attributing her irregularities to conditions ranging from drunkenness to hemorrhoids.

    Personally, I like it when people in these TV jobs are slightly eccentric and loosey-goosey, though perhaps she crossed the line into the No Man's Land of "What the Hell...?"

  28. Katie, props for being able to cram so much info into that segment, not to mention being able to move past one host practically throwing up all over Eau Première.

    Maggie, you're so right about the "sniff technique" of the female host. Watching her thrusting the bottles around made my skin crawl; I was shouting at my computer "No, no, stop!".

  29. JAntoinette, ha - I was determined to answer all the questions, even if none had technically been asked! The host was sure urpy at Eau Première, and it would have been interesting to spin off from that into a discussion of visceral responses to perfume. No room in a 4-minute segment, unfortunately.