Viewer Mail: Help Me Find a Ladylike Smart Cookie Perfume

Hey Katie,

I'm 38 and looking for a new perfume for date nights that somehow makes sense of conflicting streaks in my personality. I was born and raised in Louisiana, but have pretty much gone native in San Francisco. My Southern heritage is always muttering in the back of my mind, "Be tasteful. STAY CLASSY, dammit. Go put on some Chanel. NOT TOO MUCH! You need to smell like a 'lady'. Now go smile and make nice, okay?"

Then the part of me that has spent 15 years in San Francisco is busy going, "Hey! That smells good! It's totally gender-bendy, but like SEXY! Of course it's indie/niche. We don't support the mainstream corporate behemoth by buying from the big brands. Rock on with your feminist-sexy and so-hip-it-hurts self! Husband thinks it smells weird? TOO BAD. It's art."

Meanwhile, I'm married to a man who likes vanilla ice cream and sugar cookies -- and wishes I would smell like dessert on date night. (He also likes caramel and cinnamon. And cheesecake. So you know, it could be a BURNT cookie, with cinnamon sprinkles on top, with a cream cheese filling.) His pick? Hanae Mori eau de parfum. He thinks it smells like "a cookie”. I don't hate it. But...isn't there something better?

I try to stick my fingers in my ears and go "lalalala" and just focus on what smells nice to me, but you know, it's noisy in here. Is there anything that smells classy-vintage-modern-sexy-intellectual-interesting all at the same time? And SIGH (I can't believe I'm saying this) -- a little bit like a baked good/dessert for my man?



Here are a few things I like and wear now:

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon
Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere
Frédéric Malle L'Eau d'Hiver
Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d'une Fête
Dior Eau Sauvage
Gucci Rush

I feel like I'm missing something. My toddler-mama self would still like to feel foxy. In a ladylike way. That's also smart. But approachable. And smells like...dammit...a cookie. The closest thing is probably L'Eau d'Hiver, which is a bit almondy/foody and also sweet -- but far too faint and quiet for date night. Is there anything like L'Eau d'Hiver in a short skirt and stilettos?

God. I can't believe I just said that. The post-feminist part of me that thinks about things like the objectification of the female form and the treatment of women as objects of consumption is having a screaming tantrum right now. But she can go jump in the lake, because this is about SEX for crissakes. Ok, now the Southern belle is having a hissy because I said "sex." You can see why I need you.

All the best,

Wesley Hall Parker

You've presented a real conundrum here, Wesley: so many tastes, so many cultural associations and sociopolitics to satisfy and deny at the same time. But the magic of perfume is that it can teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Okay, maybe not the whole world, but at least the part that encompasses the conflicting streaks in your life.

I'm wondering if you and your husband can hum the new tune of a perfume I just discovered yesterday: Santal Majuscule, the latest from Serge Lutens. It's a nuzzly sandalwood with a blur of coffee, butterscotch, licorice, toasted gingerbread...and rose! Santal Majuscule follows on in the vein of the Lutens' earlier Jeux de Peau with its sweet, bread-y warmth, as well as the delicious Praliné de Santal by Parfumerie Generale. But I think it's the rose in Santal Majuscule that tips the deliciousness from a “just” a great smell into a great perfume. You know, the kind of thing a lady wears.

Over at The Scented Salamander, Chantal-Hélène Wagner has cooked up an evocative analysis of Santal Majuscule (read her post here). Here's the bit that especially struck a chord with me:
The Australian sandalwood has been worked to feel lusciously edible and creamy.... Yet, the sandalwood is also nocturnal, making you think of the improbable scenario of seeing Catwoman in her dark leather suit sauntering towards a kitchen cupboard at midnight and sneaking her gloved hand into a tin box of Speculoos cookies spiced up with fiery cinnamon.

Staying with sandalwood, a beautifully sophisticated romance perfume is L'Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant. It's no cupcake, but the sandalwood does its “sweet skin” dance with vanilla, the twist being the saffron-sprinkled rose.

More foxifyin' fumes for your delectation:

Givenchy Organza Indécence
A happy cinnamon orange cloud drifts into a creamy throb of vanilla, incense and honey.

Dior Hypnotic Poison
Fleshy jasmine, milky almond, dense plum and insinuating vanilla.

By Kilian Back to Black
A sensual stealth bomber of honey, pipe tobacco and Turkish delight.

Prada Candy
Presses into your skin like dark sugared felt made of cajeta and benzoin.

My Perfume Pen Pal Dan Rolleri often favors sophisticated vanillas (the posh marshmallow of By Kilian Love is on fairly high rotation, I believe), so hauled him in for his take:

I've been working my way through 30+ Perfumed Court samples, grousing about almost all of them, but one did stand out and it's something of a gourmand: What We Do In Paris Is A Secret by A Lab on Fire.

This stuff is gorgeous. Almond, rose, honey and amber and yet not overwhelmingly heavy or sweet. It's perfect and I'm buying a bottle next week. Tell Wesley Hall Parker to wear this. (But who even needs perfume with a great name like Wesley Hall Parker?)


Wesley, the thing I'm still having difficulty with is reconciling your love of green florals with your husband's love of bake sales. The closest I'm able to get is Penhaligon's Amaranthine, which is green, floral and sandalwoody-milky -- with a hint of the nasty. Can any fumies here suggest what lives in the intersection of the green floral+cookie Venn diagram?


  1. Hey KP and Wesley,

    Bit of an out-there suggestion, but I'd definitely suggest looking in among the Dali perfumes. I recently rediscovered these on a trip to Paris and while they're all lovely, it was 'Dali' that caught my nose - it starts out with a delicious juicy-bergamotty-fresh-herbal scent, but after a while mellows out into a warm, sexy as hell but still *very* classy subtle-spice and summer in the south of France kind of smell that carries just a shade of vanilla-sugar sweetness. Frankly, I love it, but to each their own.

    If you're looking for something lighter/fresher then 'Dalissime' is far more floral (think spring hedgerows on a sunny day) with a hint of warm apricot, and might be in the vague realm of what you're looking for. Being a country girl, I got a hint of hawthorn and gorse in there - hawthorn smells a bit like almonds or marzipan, and gorse has a shade of coconut on top of the expected fresh floral scent, which sorta covers the baked cookie element you were after.

  2. Acqua Santa by Linari is a green floral with Caramel. It's very expensive though.
    Even more expensive but well worth getting a sample of is Mamluk by Xerjoff. It has notes of Osmanthus, Jasmine, Musk, Benzoin, Vanilla, Oud, Honey and Caramel.

  3. Since WHP likes PdN Temps d'une Fete and FM L'Eau d'Hiver, what about PdN Kiss Me Tender, another edible, ladylike and enticing scent?

    There was a conversation on NST last weekend about men's attraction to edible smells and the efficacy of L'AP Traversee du Bosphore. Not vanilla/green, but it does have that kind of contrast between the sweetness of the apple loukhoum and the touch of bitterness of leather. And Duchaufour = art! ~~nozknoz

    1. nozknoz, I hemmed and hawed over Traversée du Bosphore, because that crisp apple does lend a green floralcy to the loukhoum, but overall I don't feel it's a very voluptuous perfume. Or as voluptuous as some of the others being namechecked, that is.

  4. wesleyhallparkerJuly 28, 2012 10:19 PM

    Thanks so much for posting Katie! I'm curious to hear what everyone suggests. I can't wait to try what you and Dan (and Anonymous Dali fan) have recommended.

    Dali-fan is on the right track with flowers-that-smell-like-dessert. I am not sure which flower it is that I'm digging - but there's definitely one in L'Eau d'Hiver that goes from floral-to-almond, and I do like that. The fact that it's gussied up with honey and caramel doesn't hurt either.

    I notice the same note in What We Do in Paris is Secret - and like it very much. I already have a sample of it that I am in deep like with (it might just be love). Husband's response was, "'s okay I guess." This is relatively high praise for him - so it's in my "definite candidate" pile. I was hoping for one we both liked, still looking just in case.

    Santal Majuscule I have been very curious to test. Le Temps d'une Fete - after it's sharp start - actually dries down to a purring creamy-sweet sandalwood base that I just love. So I've been wanting to find more of this note. If SM marries dessert to sandalwood, the husband and I might both be happy.

    Safran Troublant is another one I've been curious to test for similar reasons.

    Organza Indécence I find likable but it doesn't make me snap to attention. So it's a pass for me.

    Hypnotic Poison - I feel like I SHOULD like this (the notes sound like my thing), but I don't. It starts off smelling like root beer/Dr Pepper/cough syrup on me, and then turns into milky vanilla rice pudding in kind of a gloopy way that just sort of sits there and feels dull. I don't hate it, but it bores me. No offense to its many fans.

    Prada Candy is definitely on my "to test" list. Prada hasn't knocked it out of the park for me yet though, so we'll see.

    I'll check out the By Killian's too - though I almost hope I hate them due to the pricetag ;)

    1. If you like What We Do in Paris is Secret, you might also like Carner Barcelona's Tardes. It's not as sweet, but it has that almond note. It's a wonderful fragrance overall.

    2. The By Kilian I think you should try is Sweet Redemption -- it's a beautiful orange blossom floral with a warm, sweet base. Sweet, yes, but very sexy! And with a really great balance.

      Also, if your hubs likes Hanae Mori ... the ORIGINAL ballsy gourmand is Angel. Maybe you should try the version with extra dark cocoa.

    3. wesleyhallparkerJuly 30, 2012 9:25 PM

      Okay... So I had a sample of "Sweet Redemption" around from a white floral hunt this spring - so I just dabbed it on and wafted it by the husband.

      His take, "Hey, I like that one! It smells like delicious! Way better than those other ones!" (Those "other ones" being Bois des Iles, What We Do in Paris, and Tonka Imperiale)

      Holy smokes, who'd have thunk he'd like a floral most?

      Granted, a floral with a ginormous dollop of sweet vanilla in the base.

      Still many, many others to test - but I wouldn't have called that. Thanks for the rec!

    4. See, this is the kind of thing that trips up the dedicated fume-fiend every time: a pronouncement from a civilian that they absolutely *hate* something (flowers, patchouli, musk, etc), sending us scrambling to fit the bill, only to find that they're perfectly fine with the prohibited ingredient! Good on ya, Elisa, for reading between the lines and suggesting Sweet Redemption.

    5. So now that we're talking orange blossom, I'd like to submit one of my favorite mainstream date night perfume suggestions, Narciso Rodriguez For Her. I prefer the EDP, which is on the rosy side, but the EDT features more of the orange blossom + baked yumminess side.

  5. wesleyhallparkerJuly 28, 2012 10:50 PM

    Oh and about the "green florals" thing - yes, I love them! Katie -how did you know? I thought the only obvious green floral in that set I listed was Le Temps d'une Fête.

    I'm a little obsessed with finding the "perfect" green, too. But not for date night.

    Recently I had Parfums de Nicolai Weekend a Deauville, Chanel Bel Respiro, Dior Diorella and Chanel Cristalle dotted on my arms. I held them out to husband, delighted, "Which one do you like best?" Personally, I think they're all divine, but he drew back in horror, "OHMYGOD YOU SMELL LIKE COMPOST!"

    (I don't care, I'll still probably get "Weekend.")

    So anyhow, for DATE NIGHT I'm not sure we're going to pull off this green floral meets cookie thing... unless it's through the magic of hawthorn (or is it heliotrope?) which seems to be a shape-shifter.

    As for Amaranthine - I secretly find it super sexy. That goes bonus for Une Fleur de Cassie.

    But my guy likes cozy, cuddly things - and on date night I'm happy to accommodate. Amaranthine and Cassie would make him scream "COMPOST!" or worse. :)

    1. Your Eau Sauvage and Eau Premiere sing green to my ear, so that's how I pegged you.

      I guess green + cookie could well equal "compost", so perhaps best not to try for that.

  6. wesleyhallparkerJuly 28, 2012 10:59 PM

    Oh and Chris - thanks for the recs of Aqua Santa and Mamluk - I'll have to check them out.

    And nozkos - L'AP Traversee du Bosphore is on my "too test" list too. I've been wondering about it.

    PdN's Kiss Me Tender is a great suggestion - it's an ALMOST for me, there's a lot I like about it - but it didn't make me swoony. But... that was awhile ago...Perhaps it's time for a retest :)

    Thank you, thank you everyone!

  7. How about Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez? I'm wearing it now and can't stop thinking about making out. Still it's ladylike - if only because its old and used to be worn by ladies (albeit they must have been naughty, those ladies). And sweet it is too. For the husband.

    1. wesleyhallparkerJuly 31, 2012 8:55 PM

      I keep hearing about this perfume and really have to check it out - thanks for the rec!

  8. Wesley
    Have you tried Amber Narguille? It's not green at all, nor cookie, but many people seem to read it as pastry. I don't when I wear it, I pick up the tobacco with apples and warm spices and find it warm and embracing, yet not heavy. I wonder also if you've tried Coromandel? It's not green floral, but more sort of greenish/earthy/herbal with warm sexy almost caramel like cocoa.
    I recommend those because I enjoy wearing them very much but also because my Mother who almost cannot bear to smell any scent on people around her, actually enjoys those two.

    1. I love the Ambre Narguilé suggestion - it tucks into the same same nook as Back to Black.

      And Coromandel! Interrrrrrresting. It's a big ol' oriental, benzoin and patchouli. Hmm. I wonder...?

  9. Hi Wesley

    What about Guerlain Tonka Imperiale or others from the L'art et la Matiere line? A few of them have that cozy, vanillic warmth that your husband would like, but they are also high quality and interesting. Tonka Imperiale is creamy and sweet, but the rosemary and hay-like notes keep it from tilting all the way into candy land. Cuir Beluga also comes to mind for it's vanilla, amber and very soft leather. I get compliments on it from both men and women, but especially from men.

    1. Along those same lines, maybe Tabac Aurea from Sonoma Scent Studio? It's got those smoky masculine woody and leathery notes but also lots of gingerbread-y tobacco. Major yum.

  10. My male friends told me I smell like a cake when I wear Casmir from Chopard. I don't think that's true, but who am I to contradict their noses? You could also try L de Lolita Lempicka, it smells like a Christmas cookie and that's why I used it just twice in my life. The One from Dolce and Gabbana smells to me like vanilla pudding. Innocent from Thierry Mugler is sweet, but doesn't smell exactly like a cake or pudding (one of the notes is praline, to me smells more like honey).

    1. Interesting that you mention L de Lolita Lempicka, because that was part of Dan's and my behind the scenes discussion on this "smart cookie perfume" matter. He's a fan of the now-discontinued M. Micalleff Note Vanillée, and says that he's heard that L is somewhat of a dupe for it.

  11. If you want to go straight up vanilla, Mona di Orio's is really deep and gorgeous. Ylang ylang and orange peel at the top, with a beautiful sandalwoody drydown that reminds me of and old antique box with sandalwood beads. Kinda spendy, but hey, i've been looking for someone to split a bottle with!

    Atelier's Vanille Insensee is really good, too, and not as expensive. Great lime opening (more like lime peel than tart), then a subtle jasmine fuzz that plays nicely with the vanilla. Nice woody and faintly oak moss drydown.

    Have you tried YSL Cinema? It's famously dessert-like with a classical perfume structure that could also make it a good compromise.

    Tonka Imperiale is such a great suggestion, it's puuuuuuuuurty. And Kiss me Tender is an underratted gem, deceptively simple but nuzzly coquettish.

    Good luck, I love everybody's ideas so far!

  12. WHP, I'm going to bite the bullet and just say it: I bet that your husband would love Flowerbomb as your date night perfume. It's a little bit Angel, a little bit Lolita Lempicka, and a whole lotta cookie. But as the object of the exercise is to satisfy your inner Lady, maybe ignore that comment. I hereby submit Chanel Bois des Îles as a cookie upgrade.

    1. wesleyhallparkerJuly 29, 2012 12:18 PM

      Ha! Flowerbomb! Oh man - about two years ago, I was in Bloomingdales in SF and I told the SA I wanted a new date night perfume - and she said, "OH! This is my racaraca perfume!" (Racaraca?) "The men LOOOOVE it! racaraca!" And I am not kidding, she shook her boobs at me every time she said "racaraca."

      I sprayed some on a strip and took it with me - I'd been aware of it since the furor over the bottle, but had always been too snooty to try Flowerbomb.

      I collected the hubs at the Apple Store and said, "Here, smell this" - His eyebrows went up. Then I said, "You know, it smells good except it's about as dumb as a bag of hammers."

      Him (good San Francisco husband): "Oh yeah, it's totally as dumb as a bag of hammers."

      Not fair of me. I ruined it for him - I probably should let him smell it again and bite my tongue. ;) He'd probably love it!

      Here's the thing though: Cookie sweet perfumes WORKED on me when I was 24 and running around San Francisco in the late 90s dressed like some kind of anime character. All gigantic black boots, choppy dyed hair, too much smeary eye makeup, vintage clothes, and pouty/angry riotgrrl attitude. Sugar-sweet perfume was an interesting counterpoint to all that sulky youth rage.

      But now? I'm older, and mellower. My hair is "pretty" and long and blonde. I wear makeup without ironic intent, and adore red lipstick. I'm actually feminine (horrors!). So extremely sugary perfumes no longer act as a counterpoint to my prickly sulkiness. Instead, they just make me smell frosted. It's like GIRLY OVERLOAD.

      So...Flowerbomb would no longer provide an interesting contrast. Though in about 1999, it would have been perfect ;)

      I know you aren't suggesting it, Katie. Just had to share.

      I remember recently reading that perfume should be the opposite of a skin's natural scent - which may be true. I think it also has to do with the image a person projects, and the authentic energy they give off. And, as with many art forms - counterpoint is often the most interesting statement.

      But...I think too much, obviously. You are CORRECT that Flowerbomb is likely the quickest win for my husband :)

    2. wesleyhallparkerJuly 29, 2012 1:23 PM

      Ok, I have raided my sample bag, and I'm sitting here wearing little blotches of:

      A Lab On Fire - What We Do in Paris is Secret
      Guerlain Tonka Imperiale
      Hermes Ambre Narguile
      Chanel Coromandel
      Chanel Bois des Iles
      PdN Kiss Me Tender

      Definite "No's":
      Coromandel - Gorgeous. Very herbal, then earthy. Not enough booty though.
      PdN Kiss Me Tender - Pretty, but gets a smidge...camphorous? on me. Similar effect to Apres Le Ondee which does this in spades. Husband dislikes.

      My Faves:
      Ambre Narguile - gorgeous spicy tobacco amber. yum.
      Bois des Iles - WOW, this is elegant but dead sexy. I never noticed the naughtiness before. Katie, there's an animalic lurking in here, isn't there?
      What We Do in Paris is Secret - yummy & interesting
      Tonka Imperiale - yummy

      Bois des Iles makes me feel sexy. Fancy lady sexy. It's totally not a cookie - but who cares? Okay...maybe the husband...

      I love the opening on Tonka Imperiale - it's DELICIOUS, but the drydown is less delicious and almost too smooth if that makes sense. Still good though.

      WWDIPIS is also yummy - and interesting. It's the honey, I think.

      Ambre Narguile I adore at first but then I start to feel hunted by it. Then I go back to adoring it. I like the middle spicy phase - but the drydown can sometimes give me a headache. But GOD it smells good. Maybe just too much of a good thing? I have been fence sitting on this one for awhile. Can never decide.

      Husband's Favorites ("Not bad"):
      Tonka Imperiale
      What We Do in Paris is Secret
      Bois des Iles (!!!) <- I'd have thought it'd freak him out. Who knew?

      Still Need to Order & Test:
      Santal Majuscule
      Safran Troublant
      By Kilian Back to Black
      By Kilian Love
      Salvador Dali
      Acqua Santa
      Traversee du Bosphore
      L de Lolita Lempicka (I sniffed this when it came out and was confused by the difference from the bottle)
      Mona di Orio Vanilla
      Atelier's Vanille Insensee
      YSL Cinema

    3. Hey! Maybe Bois des Îles will end up being your racaraca perfume! Give the pure parfum a try the next time you're near a Chanel boutique to experience its full lushness. (Now that I think of it, Santal Majuscule is sort of a cookie-er version of Bois des Îles.)

      I completely know what you mean about the urge to contrast perfume with persona. (And also the urge to f-up one's youthful prettiness with scary-hair weirdness. Been there.)

  13. Hey, Wesley, what about Bond No.9's Chinatown? It's sweet, cozy, sexy and gourmand-y for the husband and sophisticated (in a quirky way) for you...

    1. Ooh, Chinatown is a great suggestion, especially if she likes Rush.

    2. wesleyhallparkerJuly 30, 2012 9:01 PM

      Eee! Right, right. Chinatown. How could I forget? I like it. I tried some on last Christmas I think, but didn't follow up. At the time I wasn't looking for the same thing - will have to order a sample to give it a real wearing. Thanks!

      (Rush is my guilty pleasure. I don't wear it often because I think of it as a "go out dancing" perfume - too loud for polite company. But it IS so happy and fun. And obnoxious.)

  14. --Chia by Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561; Notes: almond, orange, rose, candyfloss, hazelnut, vanilla, amber, musk.

  15. Oh yes and Kenzo Amour--and maybe TDC Pure Virgin although it is more of a "clean" scent.

  16. I remember biehl parfumkunstwerke's PC02 as being a really yummy, honey-infused spicy floral. It's warm and somewhat tropical -- not in a coconut and suntan lotion way, but because it seems so breezy and relaxed and sweet.

    I'm also wondering if Prada L'eau Ambree might work? There's no straight-up yummy cookies involved, but it does have a surprisingly airy freshness brushed at the edges with an oriental sweetness that never gets overpowering.

    The Prada is far lighter and leafier than the biehl parfumkunstwerke, and might be easier for the hubby to deal with on a date night?

  17. WHP- will be interesting to see what you think of Safran Troublant...I recently ordered a sample - Coromandel is one of my top of the list faves- but your comment that there wasn't enough "booty" makes me think you may really dig Saffran...I got a fair amount of "booty" from that one-

  18. Oh, and I just gotta say how much I can relate to your need for contrast in the sweet yummy stuff worked with your former ,anti-mainstream style of youth.Now that your "packaging" has become more polished, you still have that inner rebellion and want to project to the world- "Don't dare try and judge this book by it's cover!" Forgive me if I am misinterpreting, but if any of this rings true, oh, how I can relate! (I, too, am a 38 yr old female from the South:) And your comment about a certain fragrance being dumb as a bag of hammers- is brilliant! You are a "smart Cookie", Wesley Hall Parker, and your scent should reflect that- Hope you find it and please keep us posted!

    1. wesleyhallparkerJuly 30, 2012 2:55 PM

      Aw, thanks pinkcash - and no, you aren't misinterpreting, lol! I think you cover the territory pretty accurately. :) I think the Southern Belle standard is a funny one - I mean, I know some women who totally embrace it, but most don't - not totally. It's too perfect-perfect. Almost all my gal pals have a way of rebelling - even if it's tee-tiny. Would be curious to hear what you like to wear sometime ;) And where are you located??? Just curious.

    2. I prefer the Stereotype of the eccentric, zany, Southern Gothic type - vs. the saccharine sweet (often duplicitous) Southern Belle archetype..., alas-my roots are not as "southern" as yours- born and bred and still in NC...As far as my choice of scents- Oh golly, I am loyal to but a few and am constantly in search of the next Great thing- My taste in fragrance mirrors my taste in music- all over the board- but what's got me super hot and bothered most recently is Le labo Iris 39-just purchased my second consecutive bottle and the lotion! From someone who changes fragrance as often as undergarments- that's almost like marriage for me!I get just enough "weirdness" from iris 39 to satisfy my recent craving for "unusual" as a descriptive in my scent...I do appreciate that you are trying to satisfy both your husband's and your own needs in your fragrance...I do LOVE when my husband compliments my scent,but,my fragrance habit has become so frenzied- well, bless his heart- even if I happen on one he likes, more than likely I'll have moved onto something else before he even gets to comment! Keep us posted on your smart cookie journey and continue to fight the good fight, WHP!

    3. wesleyhallparkerAugust 07, 2012 11:22 PM

      Yup - you got it pinkcash. I come from one of those "weird" old Southern families. Well, it's half arty-quirky-weird, and half proper-on-the-outside-dark-on-the-inside-weird (and aren't they all?!?) - and each side is always gossiping about the other.

      I attempted a goth stage in my teens - but I was just too darn blonde and effervescent to pull it off. I smiled too much. I can't even brood properly. ;)

      NC still counts as "Southern" last time I checked. Y'all just got more culture, 'specially round Asheville with all them hippies! (jk)

      I love Iris. And I'm still looking for the perfect Iris. Must check out Iris 39! Dang, I just put in a big order to Luckyscent too. So I'll need to wait for the next round of stuff.

      Have been testing lots of things - but am beginning to realize several things:
      1. I really need to focus on pleasing myself (even if it is for date night) - because if I don't like it, I won't wear it
      2. Hard as I try, I typically don't like vanilla
      3. Hubs doesn't really know what he likes ANYWAY. Witness his earlier statement that he loved Sweet Redemption. After requesting "cookies."

      So, there ya go.

      I still have to put in an order to Perfumed Court to get Santal Majascule and some By Killian's and SL's and bunch of other stuff - but so far - after oodles of testing samples from LuckyScent - some current faves are:

      1. Seville a l’Aube <- this could actually work; gorgeous orange blossom. Like this better than Sweet Redemption.

      2. L'Artisan Tea for Two (random! Because the opening smells like Nat Sherman's MCDs from my youth, and smoking on stoops in SF) <- husband will hate this

      3. What We Do in Paris is Secret <- Dan is prescient. I also tested pc02 (thanks Nathan!) which is similar in style, and more wearable in summer. Both have that honey + tonka thing that's really nice.

      4. If I am going to do vanilla - Mona di Orio's AND Vanilla Insensee are both fabulous. And Insensee has the bennie of being wearable in summer.

      See? I'm all over the map. Who knows where this will end. xo - Wes

    4. WHP! you must be exhausted from all that sampling!I know what sample binges are like and they really can wear you out!!Think I finally figured out when ordering a big bunch that I don't actually have to try them all the same day I receive-and can take my time getting to know them- I like your revelations, WHP! Those revelations make the whole thing worthwhile!!laughed that hubs doesn't even know why he really likes-once again, I can relate- and as far as pleasing yourself- I must say, a happy, confident sexy feeling wife is probably the very best thing any man could ask for on date night- b/c if she is all those things- chances are that the night will end well for him, too:)! laughed at the Asheville hippie comment- I visit frequently- and live just down the rd in Winston Salem:)I'm starting to think I'm the only one on the world in love with Iris39..had my sis sniff it recently and said- tell me what you think- first thing she said was, smells masculine...and then some other things I don't remember- b/c I got stuck on masculine- she did like it- but I couldn't get past "masculine" dying for KP to do a review of it...some of my favorite "real" smells in the world are the smell of raw silk and I've smelled angora sweaters that put off a similar vibe to raw silk...For some reason, Iris 39 reminds me of those "real smells" a little...I've just discovered iris- and not even sure if I can pinpoint that note- I am somewhat confounded by the iris note and so of course, I'm intrigued! would love to hear some iris' you like, WHP! just scored a bottle of Hiris on ebay and I like it- but doesn't tickle my pickle ( as KP would say) like 39...


    is what came to mind. :)


  20. I also immediately thought of Tonka Imperial and What we do in Paris. Tocade by Rochas has a delicious vanilla and rose note. How about By Kilian Love? Cybele

    1. The description of What We Do In Paris Is Secret made me think of Perfumerie Generale Brulure de Rose, which is sort of a fancy version of Tocade, I think.

    2. have to try Brulure de Rose. I also find Guerlain Rose Barbare very yummie and sexy, there must be a cookie lurking through the rose chypre! Cybele

  21. and Wesley, my perfect green florals are Envy and Vetiver pour Elle. Cybele

  22. wesleyhallparkerJuly 30, 2012 3:02 PM

    Thanks so much for all the recommendations everyone! I am stocking the most ridiculous shopping basket over at the Perfumed Court (and also LuckyScent). Thank you thank you!

    I've been thinking more about the idea of counterpoint in perfume and persona - which leads me to some funny questions, like..."Is it most interesting for a smart woman to smell DUMB? (Flowerbomb!)" Or..."For a conservative woman to smell risque?" Or..."For a bold woman to smell...demure and compliant?" "Or for a rebel type to smell...classic?"

    So not PC, I know. But then, neither are the laws of attraction.

    In the end, it may not matter. I tend to wear what I fall in love with. And that is never quite predictable.

    1. Contrast always heightens the flavors, I find.

  23. Excellent suggestions so far. How about Copper Skies from Kerosene? It's an amber, coffee, hay, leather. Gorgeous, interesting and dead sexy!
    I also second Cinema and my husband gets a very dessert-y vibe from Costume National 21. Also, Kenzo' s Fleur d'Hiver is similar to the Malle and worth checking out. And EL d'O Divine Enfant is a sweet one. Good luck!

  24. Man, I'll most likely be pilloried here for this suggestion, but why not just go with Demeter Fragrances for date nights if the sugar cookie rush is present?

    You can smell EXACTLY like one if you like. You can switch it up in any number of ways and they're cheap, too!

    They're fun, not too serious, so your SF side can be it's freakified self, and they're decently enough made so that your Southern Gal won't feel like she went to the mall to get her groove on.

  25. That's an interesting suggestion, Stefush. What are some Demeter combos that work for you?

    Wesley, I'm very intrigued with Southern-belle you. A friend of mine moved to New Orleans several years ago and loves being there. Maybe embracing your southern roots and smelling like pralines and magnolias would definitely make you stand out from those wearing indie/niche scents.

    My formerly Yankee buddy gives me the impression that New Orleans ladies aren't to be dismissed by outward appearances of gentility.

    Nora B

    1. wesleyhallparkerJuly 31, 2012 2:40 PM

      Lol Nora B! Yes, New Orleans ladies are...ahem...very New Orleans. And I'll leave it at that! ;) New Orleans runs on its own code.

      I am from Shreveport, in the north - the Bible Belt. So it's considerably less va-va-voom than New Orleans.

      Still, I think in general Southern women are far sassier than initial appearances let on.

      As for me, I can't claim the Southern Belle tiara. Both my grandmothers were "belles" (one wore Chanel and only Chanel, the other wore "My Sin") - one debuted in New Orleans. My mother is a 70s-style boho feminist/artist (I remember her best in Jovan musk) - and I am somewhere smack in the middle of the continuum.

      But yes - embracing my roots through perfume has been fun! I think that's why I've been wearing so much Chanel lately. As for a favorite Magnolia - I like L'Instant :) What about you?

  26. Sadly enough, I do not hail from a place as romantic and evocative as Louisiana*, so I don't have an ounce of Southern belle in me.

    But I remember once when we lived in Memphis, we were waiting in line for something (grocery checkout? I don't remember) and some lady was not conscientious the time of those behind her. In a ditzy voice, she said, "I'm holding up the line!"

    Cue sassy southern belle behind her in a voice that demanded respect, "Yes, you are!"

    So, no. Being discreet and mindful of etiquette does not make you a pushover.

    Oh, yeah! And perfume. My favorite is Le Temps de Une Fete, although I need to dip my toes in more Nicolai.

    My mother loves Shalimar, which a friend of mine refers to as smelling too brothel-y. Rest assured, my mother has not brothel associations.

    *My parents are Appalachian and I grew up in the Midwest.

    --Nora B

    1. wesleyhallparkerAugust 07, 2012 11:29 PM

      Ha! Nora - it it was Memphis, and if it was anytime between 1991-1995 (when we were in college there) that was probably my friend Allyson being a sass-mouth.

      Le Temps de Une Fete is one of my favorites too! Don't you just love it? I like how it opens with a narcissus so sharp that it's almost like a slap to wake you up - but then the drydown is actually mellow and beautiful. It only has claws up front - and is sweet-natured at heart :)

  27. I'd say Guerlain Gourmand Coquin if you REALLY want to smell like a dessert but with some bitter chocolate, or Parfums de Rosine Praline Rose, which is just... mmmm.

    That's AFTER you've tried Katie's choices, which I FULLY agree with (esp the first two, go Serge!).

    Lovely post :)

    1. Wowie, double yes on Gourmand Coquin and Praline Rose!

    2. Katie, it's off topic here but I would like to ask you for your opinion on different rose chypres or rose patchoulis most of them by Francis Kurkdjian. I recently met Rose Barbare and fell in like despite of that I usually don't enjoy predominant roses. Now I got lost in the jungle of Lady Vengence, Agent Provocateur, Rose de Siwa, Lumiere Noir - any directions? And, I always love the viewer Mail! Cybele

  28. Oh, and adding Rose Nacree du Desert. A review of the contemporary rose-patch/rose-oud jungle would be so great!!!!!!

    1. Cybele, I have been *loving* those new "desert" Guerlains! Rose Nacree du Desert is outstanding!! I really want to review that range soon. As for your list of rose chypres, Agent Provocateur is my personal fave out of that bunch, followed by Lumiere Noire pour Femme. But while you're in the rose jungle, also try Frederic Malle Une Rose and Portrait of a Lady.

    2. Thank you for the insight, Katie! I am still very curious to know what you think of Rose Barbare? Cybele

    3. I've never lingered on Rose Barbare whenever I've whirled through those exclusive Guerlains. It's very pretty, but personally, it hasn't grabbed me.

  29. Hi! You should try Maison Martin Margiela - it might just marry your love for greens with your husband's sweet tooth!

  30. WHP have you already tested Carner Barcelona Tardes on you and your husband?

  31. Since Bois des Iles is already on the try out list, Here are three that might fit the bill for both elegance
    And some cookies too:
    Guerlain Plus que jamais
    Lutens Daim Blond
    Bottega Veneta

    1. Pass the elegantly chic cookies, please!

  32. Dear wesley,

    If you love coromandel and earthy vibe please check out allure sensuelle by chanel. This fume us seriously underrated. That's a plus for me though, as few people wear it. My secret from me to you!

    To satisfy your gourmand hubby's taste try the parfum. classified as a soft floral oriental, but to my nose leaves a lasting impression of a gourmand. Intensely bright, sweet candied fruits, spicy floral opening . But never heavy or cloying due to heavy dosage of vetiver for that earthy uplifting quality. Powdery (iris) vanilla (genuine bourbon variety) soft rose court sharp earthy patchouli. Patchouli gives way to sweet jasmine, lending a creaminess to the sweet sandalwood leathery amber base. the jasmine has a sharp bitter narcotic edge thanks to a medicinal lavender. The dry down continues with the earthy, bitter astringency. with the bitterness and sweet vanilla, it's a passing resemblance to bittersweet dark chocolate. When the flowers and the sweets fade, there is a glorious chypre like dry earthy woody smell that lasts forever. It is to die for. Also note, this fragrance also very cozy when worn on skin. So when they say it manages to be both intimate and carnal all at once they are right on the money.

    I am addicted and totally fascinated with it. This perfume is so many things. I love the clever use of perfumery ingredients used in traditional male fragrances. A wonderful study in contrasts. Sure, it's all " sugar, spices and everything nice" but there is this dark mysterious edge underneath it all.

  33. My comment comes a bit late but your current favourite scents are basically my current favourites and I just have to add my two cents :)

    For a very sophisticated perfume that is a bit mysterious, warm but not too much of a cookie (and honestly: you don't want to smell like a cookie, do you?): Dune by Dior. I guess your husband might like it as well as it was a mainstream success (without that mainstream tough though) in the early nineties and is not too much niche.

    Also, Bottega Veneta Le Parfum has already been mentioned but it's great so I think you should try this one, too.

    If the Bottega Veneta isn't sweet enough, maybe Champagne de Bois by Sonoma Scent Studio is. It's also similar to Bois des Iles.

    Have you already found the perfect nights-out fume? Would be interested to know which one appeals to you and your husband :)

    1. Yes, I'd be keen to know what you've come up with, WHP.

      I remember once wearing Dune and my boyfriend at the time wrinkling his nose and going, "What smells like medicine?"

  34. I find these recommend a perfume threads hilarious. As someone who decides what they want to wear basically on whether the perfume is interesting, likeable, and my feelings towards it, with a single recurrence to 'what I am like', I don't really get the "i'm 32 yrs old with brown hair and small pores and like to walk my chihuahua on rainy days through the park: what perfume would you recommend for me?' Wesley Hall Parker's description of herself reminds me of Plath poem Fever 103, except in that the various selves at war with each other in Parker's description are those which Plath is trashing. It just seems a narcissistic way to select a perfume, and one that is always going to end up unsatisfied, and it's hard not to think that recommending a new way of selecting perfume is probably of more pertinence than recommending perfumes themselves.

    1. Anonymous, Fever 103° deserves its own perfume recommendation thread. If fragrance houses started using Plath poems as perfume briefs, that would get them off the fruitchouli treadmill in no time.

      But to your point, it's mean and unfair to slam WHP and other correspondents who are playing along in these Viewer Mail perfume rec threads. The participants understand that this is just a bit of malarkey -- it's for fun! Perfume is a life-enhancing whimsy, a sweet drizzle of icing on the hum-drumminess of our day, and I can't see that one method of choosing our scent is any better or worse than any other approaches.

      The Basenotes lads are on a perpetual hunt for a "panty dropper"; Chandler Burr's after a work of art he can set on a plinth and admire from afar; some are seeking a perfume that sums them up to a T: chihuahua, small pores and all; others' objective is to lose their quotidian selves in a swirl of glamorous decadence they'd have no hope of living up to in real life (my category); there's your "what am I in the mood for today?; and when all else fails, it's "eeny, meeny, miny, moe".

      It doesn't really matter what the framing device is for discussing and enjoying perfume, as long as it results in the discovery of new smells that titillate and inspire.

      And regardless of which path leads you to the day's perfume, they're *all* narcissistic. To put it more benignly, there's always a built-in healthy self-regard when grooming and adorning ourselves. "How can I be even more fabulous through the medium of perfume?" is not a terrible question to pose.

  35. Yes, Wesley, please let us know what you've found? Another one came to mind, not sure if it was mentioned before-the dark cookie Bulgari Black. Cybele