How Perfume Boredom Led To i smell great™

How Perfume Boredom Led To i smell great™

Regular readers of my blog know that I can count the number of times I’ve written a rave review about a newly released perfume on one hand. I love perfume, and I love writing about perfume, but the only perfumes that have interested me enough to write about have either been niche, which often means expensive and/or hard to find, or vintage and vanished from the market. I hoard my vintage perfumes that will never be made again, and I resent having to pay a fortune for some niche brand that uses the same ingredients as everyone else.

By now everyone knows about i smell great™, the perfume brand created by Randi Shinder and myself. Randi created and launched three beauty brands that were so groundbreaking they formed new categories in fragrance and skin care. And, we are both perfume junkies, in the truest sense of the word. We eat, sleep and breathe perfume. We obsess about scents and flavours all. The. Time. Stimulate our sense of smell or taste, and we are already dreaming about how this or that would work in perfume. Both of us have been obsessive “noses” since we can remember. Scents haunt us, and they haunted us until we captured them and bottled them, like perfume ghosts.

Randi and I would often get so excited about a scent we would hear about. Then, we’d try it and find it was pretty much exactly the same as many many perfumes before it. Cue the sad trombones. Newsflash: the industry is full of imitation. If one perfume has commercial success, wait for every other designer to release a perfume that smells “similar”. They copy the successful one, maybe tweak it a tiny bit (and maybe not) and then call it something else. Just wander around any perfume department and smell all the top sellers. A well developed nose will be able to find the sameness in everything.

The names are often ridiculous and have nothing to do with what the perfume smells like. Reveal, Downtown, Encounter and how about 18 different editions of Eternity for women and another 14 Eternity versions for men? Oy. Sorry, Calvin, but you aren’t even trying anymore. Talk about phoning it in.

Then there is this business of “notes” in perfume. It used to mean a lot more, and still does with some niche and artisanal perfumers. But for most mainstream perfumes, that cacophony of  top, middle and base notes aren’t really telling us what the perfume smells like. It’s ad copy. It’s a romantic idea of the scent. Yes, yes, some of those synthetic molecules are meant to smell like certain things, but that doesn’t mean assembling them together as if you are Jacques Guerlain (SPOILER ALERT: YOU ARE NOT) is going to create another Shalimar. It’s like a habit that the consumer thinks they need to know. Do you? I know I don’t care. I want to know if it smells good, and those vague and random recipes and notes rarely tell me anything about the scent.

So. Why not make perfumes for the masses, why not make perfumes for those who really just want to wear an uncomplicated scent that just smells great? Why not make perfumes that don’t cause headaches, perfumes that don’t choke everyone around you with chemical scent enhancers that elevate perfume projection to nuclear levels? Yes, lady who bathes in Angel before getting on that elevator, I’m looking at YOU. Stop. Now.

I can’t wait to share how Randi and I came to create our perfumes. How the things we loved became perfumes. How the scented products that accompany the perfumes have bases that were just as important as the perfumes. I challenge you to spray your hands with i smell great™ Wellness Water Fragrance Mist. The luxurious base of purified water and skin-healthy ingredients means you can rub it in and it will feel great as well as smell great. Go ahead and try that with a mainstream body mist. Be careful though, it will probably dissolve your nail polish.

Stay tuned for more of our story!

When I Wear Prada L’Eau Ambrée I Could Devour Myself

When I Wear Prada L’Eau Ambrée I Could Devour Myself

Prada L’Eau Ambrée is one of those quietly elegant perfumes that manages to please everyone while being unique, and also flying under the Latest Perfume Everyone Is Wearing radar. It’s categorised as an Oriental Floral, but I’d call it a warm skin scent. Yeah yeah, there are floral notes. And the spicy notes that are generally considered oriental notes. But they are truly a “L’Eau”, or, if you will, a water. This is no YSL Opium (which I love btw) nor is it an big floral. There are gentle fruit notes on the top that serve to soften and sweeten all the notes to come – the only floral note listed is rose, and well, I suppose I can pick out a drop of that, but I also get a hint of jasmine or maybe gardenia. But only a hint. Prada L’Eau Ambrée is more like a silky velvety musk with some sexy smoky notes. Not campfire smoke, more like a soft incense. That could be the patchouli, but again, no hippy patchouli oil here. There is definitely some vanilla which rounds everything out and just makes it yummy. It seems to melt into your skin and become part of you. It is very easy to wear – soft and sexy at the same time. I find just when I think it’s faded from my skin and I can’t smell it anymore, a whisper of perfume wafts from my skin. The mysterious coming and going of Prada L’Eau Ambrée is one of the addictive qualities of this perfume. If you are intrigued by the perfume thus far, I can almost guarantee you will love it.

Prada L'Eau Ambrée ad

And of course, there is the amber. It’s not the dry or powdery amber that I usually associate with an amber perfume. Not that I don’t like that scent – I love it, and I am a big fan of L’Artisan Parfumeur Ambre, although sometimes it is a little more amber than I want. Note- in perfume when you read amber, it is not the amber resin you see in jewellery, although that has been used as an incense type of product many years ago. The amber in perfume is thought to be a loose reference to the Arabic word “ambar”, meaning ambergris. Now amber is used mostly to describe warm, musky scents that may have rich or honeyed aspects, as well as those in the oriental fragrance category. It is an earthy scent and be a synthetic or created using natural resins, most often that resin is labdanum and/or benzoin. I’m not sure what Prada cooked up in their perfume labs to make amber smell so mouth watering, but it is quite amazing.

This is what happens when you wear Prada L'Eau Ambrée

This is what happens when you wear Prada L’Eau Ambrée

This is one that is definitely a must to try on skin, as it smells like amber soap on a paper blotter. Pro Tip: sampling perfume based solely on how it smells on a paper blotter is like buying food based only on how it smells. The most important part of the sensory experience is when it touches you, either by taste or the way it “cooks” on your skin. My most favourite description of this perfume, and the one that had me obsessed with trying and wanting it, comes from the wild and wonderful perfume writer & historian, Octavian Coifan. He is a European writer (check out his blog here) and even though things can be lost in translation when he writes, some things are simply poetic. Octavian said of Prada L’Eau Ambrée “It doesn’t smell [of] perfume, it smells like a human presence”. And I will leave it at that.

Prada L’Eau Ambrée is available at department stores and select beauty boutiques. In Canada Murale and Shoppers Drug Mart carry it as well. A 50ml bottle is around $95. If you are savvy, you may be able to find it online for less.

Diptyque Do Son Eau de Parfum- Perfume That Purrs

Diptyque Do Son Eau de Parfum- Perfume That Purrs

I recently became obsessed with tuberose. It can be a challenging note in perfume. Keeping in mind that everyone wears perfume differently, and just because it smells awful on me, doesn’t mean it isn’t a gorgeous perfume. Like Robert Piguet Fracas, which is arguably the grande dame of tuberose perfumes. Oh, how I wish I could wear it. I fantasize about how beautiful it is and my bubble is popped every time I try it. I am holding out for the pure parfum extrait, as perhaps that is the version that will work for me. I adore Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, which is really mostly tuberose. It’s gorgeous and elegant but a little formal for every day wear, however it is perfect for occasions when I want to diva it up a little. Rawr.

Tuberose is a flower with an earthy and somewhat carnal scent to it. It was frequently the star of Victorian “Moon Gardens” which was usually made up of white flowers that release their intense fragrance after dark- popular so the sun-shunning Victorian ladies could keep their milky white complexions. It’s floral-heady-jasmine-orange- rubbery-fruity-lactonic-honeyed-indolic aroma is said to have powers to cure frigidity . Oh those naughty Victorians. They also believed that  tuberose signified dangerous and carnal pleasures, and young girls were warned against inhaling its aphrodisiac scent after dark, lest it lead them into trouble. No wonder I love it. Meow.

Heathcliff, driven mad by smelling my tuberose perfume in the moongarden….

I adore Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, another reference tuberose, but on my skin it is one of those perfumes that does. Not. Quit. It wants to wear me, settle into a chair in my house and stay awhile. That’s not how I like my perfume. I like it closer to the skin, as my readers likely know. Diptyque Do Son was one I wanted to revisist, as it is what I’d call a gentle less intense tuberose. I had tried Diptyque Do Son in the eau de toilette version several times. For some reason it didn’t stick, so I kept having to try it again. It never really  stuck with me, or impressed me enough to want to wear it But I knew I had to revisit it, and perhaps in my new found obsession with tuberose I would magically love it. Well, wouldn’t you know, the store I went to had a) no tester for Do Son and b) no eau de toilette in stock. They only had the recently released eau de parfum version of Do Son, which Diptyque describes as “A familiar yet reinvented interpretation, with accentuated, enhanced major notes… the Eau de Parfum expresses itself with even more personality, audacity, intensity and tenacity”. I get a little crazy when it comes to perfume and in a fit, I decided to just buy Do Son in eau de parfum – without even smelling it. Risky, I know, but that’s the Bond Girl in me. I leapt. And I’m glad I did. It is a gorgeous, sweet, musky tuberose, with some yummy fruity notes that play off the intense vibrating tuberose scent, calming it perfectly. It does stay close to the skin, but lasts quite a long time. It’s so rich and creamy and is officially My Favourite Perfume Right Now.

Verdict? I love it. It feels sexy, feminine and pretty, and is the kind of floral that will work in cool or warm weather. And it does purr on the skin.

Diptyque Do Son eau de parfum in the 75ml bottle is available on their website for $140 US, at these Diptyque stores, and at select retailers. I got mine at Holt Renfrew.

It’s Raining In My Perfume: Miller Harris La Pluie


Miller Harris is a London niche perfumer who has quite a following worldwide. Their scents range from soft and elegant to challenging and interesting, meaning there really is something for everyone. I have liked a few, Jasmin Vert and Figue Amere being two that stand out in my memory. I am now enjoying one of their newer releases – Miller Harris La Pluie. Translated to “the rain” this lastest offering from Miller Harris perfumes is  what I would call a perfect warm weather perfume. La Pluie also won Best Niche Fragrance 2012 at the Cosmopolitan Fragrance Awards, which only made me want to try it more!
From the Miller Harris website:
La Pluie eau de parfum conjures the inky blue-black of clouds heavy with rain and the heightened sense of expectancy before a thunderstorm, this fragrance is richly suggestive of tropical showers and the balmy climate of a far away island

Well doesn’t that sound lovely! It really does have a weight to it, but it is like the heaviness of water, not of perfume notes. It smells like walking through a warm rain surrounded by lots of greenery and flowers. The green and floral notes combine beautifully, into a impression of the air, rather than one specific flower. With perfumes like this, the list of notes is almost irrelevant. You certainly can get notes of white flowers, but just when you think “jasmine!” it becomes “orange blossom”. And there is a humid aspect to these flowers, which I think comes from the cassie (acacia) which is a sweet yet ‘foggy” scent, but also the green, watery & almost aquatic feel of mimosa. It dries down gently to a crisp vetiver note sweetened with a touch of vanilla, but maintains the watery feeling throughout the wearing. It is a soft scent, and would be a perfect choice for someone who likes their perfumes gentle and soft, but still interesting. It is lovely to smell the slow transition Miller Harris La Pluie makes on the skin, and then enjoy the soft kiss of rain-like scent that lingers on the skin. Verdict? Lovely.


On my radar right now: Miller Harris candles. I think La Pluie would be incredible as a scent wafting through the house, so calming and soothing.

I got my Miller Harris La Pluie from MIN New York, an amazing shop that ships anywhere & has excellent customer service- they will include samples of other things you might want to try with your order as well. You can also order from the Miller Harris UK website.
Does Kiehl’s Musk Smell Like Perfume? Or Just Skin?

Does Kiehl’s Musk Smell Like Perfume? Or Just Skin?

I love a good musk perfume. They are soft and stay close to the skin, and are perfect when I don’t really want to wear an actual perfume, but when I just want to smell good. The beauty of a musk that works with your chemistry is that it is likely no one will even know you are wearing perfume. When I wear musk I often hear comments like “you smell good” or, in a group of people “someone here smells good”. The latter comment is usually followed up with “it must be Jane” but that’s just because my friends know me too well. But the point is no one ever says “what is that perfume” or “what perfume are you wearing”, because when you find a musk you love, it should melt into your skin and become part of you. You- just a bit warmer, sweeter, sexier and yes, muskier. Oh…yes. Muskier. Like the smell of that special someone’s shirt that you slip on when they aren’t there, or their pillow. This kind of scent appeals to us on a more “primal” level that your average perfume.

The way his shirt smells....

The way his shirt smells….

“Manly, yes, but I like it too…” was what came to mind the first time I tried Kiehl’s Musk. While it is definitely not a strong scent, it kind of has a rich, deep & sexy vibe that most frilly floral women’s scents lack. It’s manly and tomboyish, which frankly makes it even more sensual when a woman wears it. And, it just goes perfectly with everything. The story behind it says it’s based on a vat labelled “Love Oil” found stashed away in Kiehl’s flagship store- they introduced it in 1963. Love Oil? I’m in.

Manly? Maybe. Sexy? Absolutely.

Manly? Maybe. Sexy? Absolutely.

But it’s not just sensual. It’s cuddly and cozy. When my youngest daughter was little she said it smelled like hugs. That works. It’s soft, quiet and  won’t offend anyone, even in a small space. It smells like warm, kissable skin. Adore the little roller bottle for my purse, perfect at under $30. Even the big 50ml bottle is under $60. The shower gel is one of my fave things and gently scents your whole bathroom, or master suite. The apothecary style aesthetic of Kiehl’s products is modern and simple- I love clean, classic lines. This is the perfect “white t-shirt” perfume & I wouldn’t be without it in my collection.