Hey there, Katie,
I have a huge problem with fragrance. Maybe I shouldn't be a 22-year-old black woman in Chicago. I'm surrounded by flat celebrity fragrances. People in department stores take one little look at me and say: "Oh, you're tall and curvy, I know the perfect scent..." and then precede to spray a Baby Phat perfume on my wrist.
Imagine their faces when I walk over to the Chanel counter and ask for a sample of Coco Mademoiselle. You'd think someone tortured their favorite puppy. Well, I'm the one being tortured. I'm surrounded by ladies my age who are dripping in alcohol fruity sugar water that smells as flat as soda would taste after being shaken. They wear it because it has someone's freaking name on it.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm impressed with Jennifer Aniston's debut fume and J. Lo's debut fume, despite the fact that I rarely go for for fresh, just-out-the-shower clean. I'm impressed because all the other celebrity fragrances are cheap smelling and LOUD. Really, loud as in the perfume version of that sad 60-something man dressed like Kanye West flirting loudly with every woman in the world. Or WORST, Kanye West dressed as Kanye West flirting with every woman in the room. I'm sure you get my frustration.
Getting to the point, I need a scent that's for me. One that works with my lifestyle (busy, scholarly, cashier at a fast food restaurant), reasonable lasting power, personal (meaning only a boyfriend should get a good whiff of it, everyone else can get hits off its glow), and most of all, unique. The unique part should be easy considering most of my peers don't go for Dior Pure Poison or Narciso Rodriguez For Her edt, two fragrances that I've worn in the past. Though I adore warm and floral, I do like YSL Opium when I'm by myself. Opium, as lovely as it is, can put the faint of heart into a coma. Got any suggestions?
Naima, perfume profiling is all well and good, but only when based on a person's actual preferences and personality, and not what they look like. You seem like a person who knows herself well, which is half the battle when seeking out a new olfactory delight.
The fumes that make you swoon are, as you say, warm and floral -- you're drawn to the honeyed, rich orange blossom in Pure Poison and Narciso Rodriguez For Her. You also get a secret kick out of spice. I love your line “everyone else can get hits off its glow,” and that clued me into the quiet-but-still-present oomph you're looking for.
For orange blossom and other white florals with oomph and occasional spice, point your nose in the direction of the following:
Laura Mercier L'Heure Magique -- pikake and rose with sandalwood, amber and musk. Might be a bit syrupy for your liking – see what you think.
Agent Provocateur L'Agent – hovers between edible, drinkable and smearable. This blend of ylang-ylang, apricot, rose and chocolatey patchouli is decadence a-go-go. I always think Coco Mademoiselle lovers would go for this one.
Dita Von Teese -- a feminine bouquet of peony, tiare, jasmine and rose in a retro-contemporary style. Technically a celeb scent, but doesn't smell like one.
Kate Walsh Boyfriend -- yes, another celeb scent, but it's cool. I think of it as “tropical goth”: creamy white florals set against dark, dried fruit and slightly salty woods.
Bulgari Jasmine Noir edp -- spiced-up jasmine and patchouli, sweet and dark. Potentially too sweet for you, let your nose be the judge.
Estée Lauder Tuberose Gardenia -- the creamy petals, green stems and dewy wetness of gardenia, underscored by tuberose and neroli.
L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a L'Aube – powdery'n'radiant orange blossom and spicy woods.
Jean Paul Gaultier Fleur du Mâle -- my wild card pick: supposedly for men, but I love the thick, almost overripe honey smell wafting around this blend of orange blossom and sweet hay. Naughty, naughty flowers!
Summoning all fumies: got any fragrance dates you'd like to set Naima up with?