Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Smells like Eric Three Thousand!

I have been searching for years for a signature scent! So frustrating! Basically I just want to smell like grapefruit, of course, but that isn't really possible. It's much harder than it sounds. I think it's hard to make the scent of grapefruit linger or to make it in a form that can be applied to the skin. I have a body spray that smells good but the scent lasts about five minutes and I have scented oils but they are for candles and are not supposed to be applied to the skin.

I was wearing a grapefruit fragrance by Comtoir Sud Pacifique but they stopped making it. They replaced it with a pomelo scent, which smells like citrus but doesn't smell anything like grapefruit. Fun fact: apparently the grapefruit was developed in the 19th century; it's a cross between a pomelo and an orange. I liked the Comptoir Sud Pacifique because it didn't smell like perfume at all; just grapefruit. But the scent didn't last that long, either. Doesn't matter since I can't get it anymore!

I used to wear Laura Biagiatti's Roma (the woman's one) when I was in college. I loved it but I think it smelled a little perfumey. I was thinking about trying it again after all these decades but I couldn't find it at the mall. I probably stopped wearing it because it's a woman's fragrance. But much of that is just marketing and it might be fine. I did try Roma for men, which stank.

So a couple of weekends ago, after a few glasses of champagne at the Four Seasons, Eric and I were at the Beverly Center and I decided I was going to find a new signature scent, even if it killed me. I spent ages in Bloomingdale's smelling almost everything. I didn't really like anything but I decided to buy something anyway. I bought Marc Jacobs Orange.

I hated it! I was mad that I had wasted $70. I decided to try to take it back even though I had already opened it but I decided to go to a different mall because I was embarrassed. I'm such a wimp. Anyway, they took it back with no questions and the woman at this other Bloomingdale's had me try something I hadn't seen at the other store. This is my new signature scent.

Although this should remain a secret, I like you so I'll tell you what it is. It's Un Jardin sur le Nil by Hermès. It's not as grapefruity as I would like but it is fruity. Almost as fruity as I am! Yes, it's probably not any less of a woman's fragrance than Roma or the Marc Jacobs one but this is actually marketed as being unisex.

Nil is pretty new; I think it came out last year. I used to sell perfume when I was in college and I remember that I liked some of the Hermès fragrances because they were very fruity and not musky; I remember liking Amazone. Nil smells of grapefruit and green mango. It lasts a pretty long time but not as long as I'd like. Maybe I'll buy the body lotion to see if that makes it last longer.

Anyway, after buying it, I remembered that I had read a New Yorker article about the making of it. Kind of a coincidence, since the New Yorker doesn't publish that many articles about the making of a new fragrance. Here's a link to the article and a couple of little excerpts:

The Scent of the Nile
Jean-Claude Ellena creates a new perfume.

by Chandler Burr
New Yorker, March 14, 2005

Walking ashore, they began following a street that led to a Nubian village. It was during this stroll that Ellena saw, hanging low in the trees that lined the street, plump green mangoes.The fruit has a complex, authentically exotic smell: it is rich and fresh simultaneously, a rare combination. The scent is also ephemeral. The fruit exudes an odor only when it is on the tree. Once you pick it, the smell deteriorates; within sixty seconds, it is essentially gone. Ellena was beguiled by this elusive fragrance. Green mango, he suggested to his companions, could form the base of Nil.
Dubrule pressed her nose into the branches, finding a hint of apricot and grapefruit. At one point, Gautier frowned; she detected the smell of nail-polish remover. Indeed, green mango contains acetone, the solvent’s active ingredient.
“You will, above all, not put nail-polish remover in the perfume!” Dubrule later commanded Ellena.
“Above all!” Gautier concurred.
Ellena promised the women that he wouldn’t, knowing full well that he would. Acetone is often used in perfumery, he told me; it provides a lightning-like jolt. He would fold in some acetone, he explained, “but in such a manner that you won’t feel it.”

“This works perfectly for Hermès,” Gautier concluded. She did have one concern: would men be able to wear it? Both she and Ellena wanted Hermès to dispense with the archaic division between masculine and feminine scents—a mere marketing device designed to make heterosexual men comfortable with the idea of wearing fragrance. Though Gautier was, wisely, cautious of being too radical for the market, she nevertheless had decided that the Jardins collection would be unisex.

One final related shopping note. Eric wanted to look at a suit at the first Bloomingdale's and of course the section was right by the colognes. I just wanted to get away from there! He was trying on a suit that I thought looked a little too big on him. The salesman was really annoying, which also made me want to leave. He kept saying how it fit perfectly and any tighter would look bad. Then he used some other guy in the fitting room as an example of what not to wear! He kept pointing to the other guy and saying that the jacket he was trying on was way too tight and looked terrible! The other guy was obviously getting really annoyed; he was not being paid to be a model of what you don't want to look like! Seriously an awful salesman. I finally just made Eric hang the suit up and leave. Bloomingdale's: return policy good, salespeople not so much.


Linda Merrill said...

Funny you should do this post. I recently attended an Estee Lauder signature scent event sponsored by Bloomingdales. This was in Chestnut Hill, MA (fab new Bloomies!)but it's a national tour. They had us select things we like from various senses - site, sound, smell. I liked the perfume that I ended up with - Donna Karan something, but I didn't purchase that night.

Up till now my signature scent has been Yves St. Laurent's Yvresse (previously called Champagne). But they've stopped making it so I tried Guerlaine's Champes Elysees, which is really pretty, but doesn't stick to me!

So, am using my tester Donna Karan and maybe will buy it eventually.

It's hard! But a signature scent is a big deal. I have an ex-b.f. who wore a cologne that I can't remember the name of now, but it's memorable and will always remind me of him. My mother always wears Joy and my Grandmother always wore Chanel 5, so those perfumes will always be Mom and Grandma!

Cool post, thanks!

Debby said...

Eric, have you tried any of the Demeter scents? They sell them at Sephora. My daughter loves "Sugar Cookie," and she smells like one ALL DAY. They also make scents like Fresh Cut Grass, Brownie Batter, maybe they have a grapefruit one that you'll like...and they're cheap, cheap, cheap!

Damselfly said...

I just started wearing (because I saved up to buy) Bond No. 9 NYC-Bleeker Street. It's spicey and I love it. However, the first time I wore it out someone asked me if I was wearing men's cologne.

Made me mad...mummble, mummble,

eric3000 said...

That sounds like an interesting event. Funny that Estee Lauder would be promoting other fragrances.

I have tried the Demeter scents. They have one called something like "Grapefruit Tea" but I didn't like it.

As long as you don't smell like CHEAP men's cologne I say you go for it. The important thing is that YOU like it!

mumblesalot (Laura A) said...

I used to have in my bio: .looking for the perfect fragrance. I think i edited out. I was also doing investigative reporting (heh) on eyeshadow. Seven bottles of fragrance later...I read your blog this am and by this afternoon I bought a bottle of Bulgari, whimsically at Marshalls.

I wore Shalimar when I was young. Light Blue by, Dolce Gabbana for about 4 years. 4711 cologne appeals to me sometimes I just switch around now so I guess I am having an identiy crisis.
Tim Gunn mentioned Guerlain's Mitsouka which I would like to research.

If I find a signature scent I will be surprised.

Ms. Place said...

Love this post. Makes me wish I could go scent shopping with you.

Alas and alack, yours truly is allergic to genuine perfumes. Achoo! I must wear lightly scented colognes, the kind that force men to smell your skin up close. Not bad, actually.

However, TMI, and I digress. I wear light colognes, such as 4711, which is German and was created in the 19th century. When I wear this cologne I think of my mama, who is Euro through and through.

Good luck in finding the perfect signature scent, Eric. It's hard, but once you do, stick to it!!

Anonymous said...

I would be afraid to have a signature scent because every scent smells different to different people.

My mother had a favorite scent which I hated. I heard someone else say a famous perfume smelled like Raid to her. What misery it is to be trapped next to someone drenched in Emeraude.

I think it would be awful to think I smelled wonderful every day while others were hating my scent.

I must say I love grapefruit and I don't think you can go wrong with natural scents.

mumblesalot (Laura A) said...

Pamplemousse....there I remembered. Grapefruit perfume . There are at least 2 using this name. I am sure you have checked this out and you have found a scent you like. I had to post this just to get the name out of my mind. I felt like I was playing trivia pursuit with myself.

eric3000 said...

Yes, Pamplemousse was the name of the Comptoir Sud Pacifique scent that is no longer available. You're right, there are a couple of scents with pamplemousse in the name but, unfortunately, grapefruit only seems to be one of several components.

Laura A and Ms. Place, I love 4711 and seriously considered it.

And anonymous, I agree, a signature scent can be dangerous. One thing I like about using a recently released fragrance is I won't remind anyone of their grandmother or ex-boyfriend.

Linda Merrill said...

just a note, Estee Lauder was only promoting their own fragrences - Donna Karen is under their wing.

But, you should have seen the sales lady when I went sniff the Joy bottle (I remember Mama!) that was on display in the regular perfume department. NOT Estee Lauder!

Joe / Kusala said...

I've had grapefruit on my mind since reading your post... I love citrus scents, and have been making one bottle of an old Crabtree & Evelyn scent last for years (Sicilian & West Indian Lime). I noticed today that they've come out with a new West Indian Lime scent after all this time.

Anyway, I love grapefruit too, and I have a great lotion called "Agrumes" by Pre de Provence. Your post made me do further research and I'm about to buy some samples on the internet of a scent called (could you guess?) "Grapefruit" by Jo Malone.

I found an interesting site that will sell various sized samples (which can dangerously add up fast... yikes, everything looks so tempting!): see link here