Out Of The Box – Mainstream Mini-Reviews Part 4

Here comes Part 4 of the fondly received Mainstream series. (Read up on Parts 1, 2 and 3 here.) My sample box has been replenished somewhat in the past months, somehow I never have trouble at all procuring the latest and greatest of the department store treasures flung at us every two weeks, without even trying. Okay, brace yourselves, dear readers, here we go…

CK One Shock for her: Is certainly aptly named… Coming out of my initial shock, I ask myself, isn’t it kind of beside the point to make his’n hers versions out of the first official unisex fragrance??? The idea of these flankers alone, incenses me (word used in a decidedly unfragrant context here). But the recipe is easy: Take a bottle of One and add a generous dollop of vanilla, et voilá, CK Shock for her. (Do the same with a bracingly masculine marine and leather accord and you get “for him”.)

CK One Shock for him: Packaged in fetching black and acid green green graffiti style (Man, I am getting way too old to even be in the demographic any more, is 35 the new senior? Or is this a retro 80s packaging and I am just to dense to get it?), this gem was long overdue on the market. It fills a hole of customer’s needs as vast, as its marketing strategy is thought through.

Marc Jacobs Bang Bang: An incredibly creative name for Bang’s first flanker, isn’t it? I might wait for Bang Bang Bang, but until this comes out in six weeks, I am perfectly happy with Bang Bang to deliver all my non-descript blah-perfume needs. Wait, that is a bit harsh, Bang Bang is actually an acceptably nice pepper heavy, wood scent, I just don’t quite see where the difference to singular Bang comes in, besides the repetition. It is too harsh a review, I seem to be taking my cue from all the pepper pepper.

Diesel Loverdose: My, my we are on a roll namewise… Loverdose clearly has a very witty godfather and like the very same, it makes an offer you cannot refuse: the promise to keep you perfectly blended with the masses, one of a legion of clean and fresh and foody smelling jeans afficionados (nothing against jeans, mind you). Notes include mandarin, star anise, gardenia, jasmine, licorice, vanilla, amber and wood. Loverdose promises to “ignite a passion like never before”. Does it do that? Sure! Why not? It certainly does so loudly and clearly and relentlessly. (L)overdose, alright.

Roberto Cavalli: I won’t even go there. I can’t. Just can’t.

Narciso Rodriguez For Her Musc Edition Intense:I liked this one a lot, less screechy top, more musky bottom (that last doesn’t sound so good, when I put it like that 😉 ) than the original and a beautiful shimmery bottle. Might seek out another sample.

Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau Delicate Eau de Parfum: A limited edition flanker to the classic For Her, this is as the name aptly states, more delicate. The emphasis is on florals, and not the screechy orange blossom of old, but rather a spring-like bouquet of something or other. It is a tad un-inventive and I have already forgotten what I wanted to say next.

Kenzo Ki Beneficial Water Sensual Rice: This is officially no perfume but a water based skin care spray. Well, the ingredient list states alcohol as it first ingredient. Not so skin caring, but rather lovely smelling. Sensual Rice smells of sweet, steamed rice and holds up for a lot longer than I would have thought. It puts some of the Chanel Exclusifs to shame when it comes to wear time. I am sucker for rice notes in perfume, so this is a lovely discovery.

Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche: I have a hard time giving this a fair chance. (Pun fully intended.) It is to the rest of Chanel, like the round bottle is to the square ones – it does not match. Aside from that, it is a vague, greenish, fresh musky something, I would expect in a shampoo. I would not mind my shampoo to smell like that actually, and I would probably find one that does without searching for very long.

Chanel Chance Eau Tendre: A more floral, pinker, more girly version of the above, this is even worse. Hard to believe, I know…

Agent Provocateur L’Agent: I like this. Davana, pink pepper, ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine, patchouli, sandalwood and amber – sounds good, smells good too. Although I perceive L’Agent in two distinct parts, top and base. Both are very nice though. I would wear this if a bottle fell into my lap. There might be a full review of this coming.

Dior Hypnotic Poison Eau Sensuelle: a flanker – one of the 37 (or thereabouts) in existence – to Hypnotic Poison, itself a flanker, Eau Sensuelle is a more wearable, softer version of a grand white floral on an almost-gourmand oriental base. Not my thing, but not off-putting either, I get the feeling it has been made for those too intimidated to wear the original these days, as it has a less intrusive sillage and a less challenging personality. Compared to the girly-fruity perfumes for the 12-14 set, it is a roaring, raring to go diva though.

So, another round of mainstream perfumes down. I do not intend to make fun of mainstream perfumes per se, but then I start smelling in earnest and there is nothing I can do… out comes the snark. I don’t want to incense anyone, it is just my personal opinion after all, and your own is just as valid.

But I see how it is hard to make a decent perfume, when most of the budget goes into marketing and the launch party costs more than the perfumer gets, in all probability.

But of course there are some very decent fragrances in the mainstream to be found as well. If you are willing to look long and hard, that is.

Image source: Galerie Lafayette via absolut-paris.com


About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
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35 Responses to Out Of The Box – Mainstream Mini-Reviews Part 4

  1. Madeleine says:

    Hi Olfactoria,
    The first part of this made me laugh, especially the Bang Bang Bang and the Loverdose – love it! Honestly, what are some of these marketing people thinking?

    Best wishes,


  2. Dubaiscents says:

    Thanks for the laugh this morning! I agree, you do have to search quite hard to find the good mainstream scents in the midst of so many blah ones!

  3. Mel says:

    Somehow I find the NR Delicate more wearable than the original – maybe because I like subtle fragrances. I’m also not a fan of Chance eau Tendre and it smells surprisingly similar to Marc Jacobs Daisy!

    • Olfactoria says:

      The entire NR line is not bad at all, I actually wore the EdT for years (in the pre-perfumista era). I’m sure the Eau Delicate is lovely, the bottle sure is beautiful!

  4. Zazie says:

    Lol!!! Loved these mini-reviews, and stand by your last line!!!

  5. andrea says:

    I think we have got used to better ingredients where the money is spent on what is in the bottle rather than the marketing budget. It must be so frustrating for the perfumers who are given no artistic freedom to create better perfumes (with the exception of JCE perhaps) There are some good mainstream perfumes to be had though, you just need to know where to look.
    Still it makes for very entertaining people watching when you actaully watch what goes on, I have seen men blindsided by the SA’s into buying something for their wife / girlfriend based on the SA telling them it is the perfume to have this season, I almost feel obliged to step in but instead just smile and walk away knowing I will always smell better. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Absolutely. If you are used to smell the cream of the crop on a daily basis, as we obsessed, I mean, dedicated, Perfumistas do, it is hard to go back to mediocre mass market releases.

      Those poor wives and girlfriends…

  6. Tara says:

    Your mini-reviews are most definitely fondly received. Perfume has never been so entertaining. The names alone are good for a laugh.

    A bit of snark now and agian is good for the soul. Fantastic writing B!

  7. Annina (nina) says:

    These are great mini reviews! I too wore NR for her for awhile. I am curious to try the other incarnations. And the L’Agent has certainly piqued my interest. I usually run through the perfume dept, hoping I don’t get assaulted by an SA brandishing the latest candy/cupcake floral. Perhaps I’ll stroll next time.

  8. etomidac says:

    Loving this review! Witty and definitely spot-on! (Some mainstream are bearable or even nice but mostly are just flat and dull, very much like a deflated balloon after a badly organised birthday party.
    Don’t give up smelling the mainstreams though (mainly because I wish to read more of your reviews :p) but I am sure there will be a hidden gem or even a great layering choice somewhere!

  9. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Bang Bang – I don’t like the name, I don’t like its advertizement, and won’t try the juice either. Just like their Dot parfume – how could ever a female human being over 15 take that bottle seriously ?!Am I really the only person who finds it ridiculous ?

    • Olfactoria says:

      Dot – what can I say, the mind boggles. 😀

      • poodle says:

        Hubby bought Dot for me when he went on a trip. I’ve been wearing it now and then to make him happy. It’s not something I’d ever buy for myself but I have to sadly admit that I have gotten more compliments on it than I care to say. Yes, the mind boggles. Oh, and the little bottle isn’t quite as dreadful looking as the bigger sizes. But of all my perfumes, compliments on Dot? I don’t get it.

  10. masha7 says:

    Wow, you really took one for the team on that mall prowl, didn’t you, Birgit? I will definitely look up the Kenzo, Kenzo and I are long-time roomies…! But I notice you didn’t try Lady Gaga’s lovely grape soda perfume? Is it not out in Austria yet? If not, you can just pour a can of grape Fanta over yourself to get the same effect.

  11. sonomavelvet says:

    I love mini reviews. It’s always fun to read about one or two you stumble across that you actually enjoy. Hard to describe why I’m enjoying reading about how Chance failed you while enjoying my own wafts of Amber Narguille. Kind of like watching a movie about arctic explorers trekking through ice from the comfort of my fireside armchair complete with cashmere blanket and cocoa.

  12. I love your mini-reviews! To have a list like this also makes me think how ridiculous all these flankers and all these names are. Do you know how the flanker craze started? They must sell like hotcakes, or they wouldn’t keep doing it . . .

    • Olfactoria says:

      Flankers are profitable because the expenses for the marketing campaign are much less, since it all has been done before. The name is already familiar and so it takes less effort to spread the word. And consumers tend to go for what they know, rather than explore the totally unfamiliar.
      And so it goes… 🙂

  13. Dionne says:

    Snark is like salt to me: too much and it can ruin things, but a sprinkle now and then heightens the pleasures of the perfume world. A perfectly salted review, Birgit.

    A lot of the time, my wonky skin chemistry can be annoying when something new comes out that is loved and it smells horrible on me, but the upside is it makes it easy to avoid mainstream releases; they’re not just boring on my skin, they’re AWFUL. My real-life evil scent twin sprayed some La Vie Est Belle on me a while back, and very quickly was exclaiming, “What IS that? It doesn’t do that on me!”

    I’ve quipped more than once: I’m not a snobby person, but my skin sure is. 😉

    • Olfactoria says:

      I’m not sure there is person in the world on whom La Vie est belle smells good. I find it absoltley horrific! (That was pure salt, sorry, but I have zero patience for this particular release. 😉 )

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