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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Perfume Review: Banana Republic Alabaster, Jade, Rosewood, Black Walnut, and Slate

Alabaster. Discover your feminine side with a delicate and captivating scent. A touch of blended lotus flower, wild rose and warm musk and you'll bewitch the ones closest to you. A lotus note is usually a kiss of death for me. Here, however, it is not as headachingly, dazzlingly intense and aquatic as it can be. The rose note is dewy and subtly sweet, the musk almost nonexistent. I would disagree with the “delicate” description; this is a forceful scent, albeit in a clean, airy sort of way. The only scent of this kind (clean, fresh, vaguely marine) that I have ever really loved was White Linen Breeze by Estee Lauder (although I did have a fling with Love in White once…). I am genetically indisposed to be able to appreciate this perfume genre. On the whole, Alabaster is “mostly harmless”, pretty and rather dull.

Jade. Unearth a scent that reflects your vibrant spirit. Tropical pomegranate, musky cotton flower and Kashmir wood unite to create this bright and intriguing perfume. Neither bright nor intriguing but simultaneously inoffensive and strong, Jade is a fresh fruity fragrance in which the fresh and the fruity sides battle for domination. Neither is winning, which is not necessarily a good thing, because the pomegranate, a potentially lovely, rich note, is never allowed to show its beauty and the clean accord is never quite as attractively radiant as it could be. To keep the long story short, Jade is neither fish nor fowl and is my least favorite of the five Banana republic scents.

Rosewood. This warm and alluring scent unearths a soulful sensuality. Fusing bergamot champagne, white tea leaves, and white amber are sure to enchant any suitor. Sweet, but not cloyingly so, this is a scent that is both cuddly and quite “dressed up”. I don’t get any “champagne”, but I do smell sweet tea, somewhat similar to that in Flowerbomb Extreme, and fluffy, velvety amber with plenty of vanilla. I might be imagining this, but the scent seems to have a fruity undertone, I swear I smell very ripe figs and some sort of berries there. In the drydown, the warm aspect is underscored by a creamy chocolate note. Rosewood inhabits The Kingdom of Angel, no doubt about that, but, as far as Angel-alikes go, this scent is one of the palest, most discreet, most watered down versions of the Big Kahuna.

Black Walnut. Capture the moment by titillating the senses. This sensual and refined scent made with a mixture of cognac, tobacco leaves, cedar wood is sure to be fondly remembered. With notes like that, I imagined the scent would be some sort of “poor” person’s Le Dandy. No such luck. This is a subtly peppery, vaguely sweet, rather dry cedar-heavy fragrance, which smells like a gazillion men’s scents out there. It is not offensive, it is just incredibly dull.

Slate. Be remembered for your masculine, crisp and energetic scent. A blend of glacier citrus water, silver sage, ginger root will inspire the senses for more. “Crisp”, “glacier”, “water”, “energetic” are scary words that spell a disaster for me. However, although I don’t love Slate, I find it more interesting then the disappointingly insipid Black Walnut. Off all five new Banana Republic scents, with their rather synthetic forcefulness, this one is surprisingly the most subtle. It walks the line between the aquatic and the green, never overstepping in either direction. It has a pleasant, sweetly-piquant aspect and an appealing apple-like undertone. I would not mind smelling in on a man and, if pressed to wear a Banana Republic fragrance myself, this would be the one I’d grudgingly choose.

The perfumes are available in Banana Republic stores and on Women’s scents retail for $28.00-$62.00 depending on the size, men’s for $45.00 for 50ml.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Marina

Thanks for this. I might place them on my 'to test' list, but they'll be definitely somewhere near the bottom. None of the descriptions thrill me, and what's more, they're gonna be difficult to obtain in the UK...

4:26 AM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Hello, my beauties-
The packaging is stellar, and the jus is SO "so-so"...
Feh !
Mediocrity dressed up in glorious bottles, but as Ms. Zorn so aptly puts it-
"You can't wear the bottles".

7:08 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...


7:27 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Hmm...5 reviews just chock full of words that make me either yawn or cringe (clean, airy, inoffensive, fruity, watered down, dull, aquatic, etc.), but so inexpensive I can't even rejoice over the money saved. Ugh. This is how I wanted to feel about that string of expletives deleted Mugler coffret. Sob!

7:58 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

To me they're perfect for what they are -- a brand extension of BR, so you can smell like the look. They're very tame, and inoffensive, and I'm presuming you could layer them if the thought crossed your mind. The packaging is nice -- I really liked the look of a couple of the femme bottles. But yes, ultimately, they're just too tame for me. Rosewood and Black Walnut were the most interesting to me personally, but the thrill was gone pretty quickly.

8:13 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

No big loss for you, really. No big loss for the UK either. :-)

8:27 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

The packaging is very impressive, but I am also with Ms. Zorn on this one. :-)

8:27 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Huh? Was it something I said? :-)

8:28 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

You forgot "crisp" and "energetic" :-)

Coffret? What coffret? <--- in denial.

8:29 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

They are definitely right for the brand that sells them and for the target audience I guess too. They are certainly not horrible.

I'd never dare layering them though. I can't imagine what Alabaster layered with Jade would do to my poor achy head. Yikes :-) These are strong!

8:30 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Lucky you! :-) Me, I spent yesterday trying to get rid of these scents on my skin. The things just wouldn't be scrubbed off. Truly a Halloween experience :-)

8:31 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like none of them are must sniffs. I was a little curious about the Black Walnut, but cedar heavy scents usually do not work for me. Thank you for the review.

10:31 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Not must sniffs, really. And none of them is really *powdery* :-D

10:41 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, I got samples of all of these but have yet to open them. Sounds like I needn't hurry.

What cracked me up is that BR does this massive amount of publicity, and then does nothing to train the staff in the actual stores, who knew next to nothing about the scents, and didn't even have testers, much less scent strips, last I was there. They were just handing out samples if you asked. So...your average customer wouldn't even probably try them. Dumb.

1:09 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Dumb indeed!

Maybe consider not trying them at all :-)Or try just a tiny little bit at a time, with a break of a week or two in between. I think I have a case of slight perfume poisoning from my overdose yesterday :-)

1:12 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rosewood was the only one I found note-worthy but it got a bit too annoying after some time. I find them a bit too forceful. Great reviews!

2:10 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Really forceful, yep. Relentless, really.

2:11 PM EST  
Blogger Erin said...

The word that comes to mind with these is *safe*. Nobody was risking anything with any of these scents, so they ultimately just bore me. Rosewood is the best of the lot, but that's not saying much. And I agree with Robin - the staff couldn't give two hoots about these and I predict they will not last long.

2:37 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Safe is a great word to describe them!

2:38 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I'll never really understand why some stores (like BR or The Gap) bother to have scents. I've never found one that was really great, and the in-store presentation is always just sad.

9:25 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Good point...There are legends going around about how great soem of the GAP scents are, like OM, for example..I want to try that one.

9:35 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i absolutely ADORE Flowerbomb by Victor & Rolf, i always wear it. Yesterday i smelled Rosewood, and ADORED IT!!! its like flowerbomb reloaded!!!! GREAT SMELL

8:09 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jade is my favorite of the entire br collection. in fact, i'm wearing it right now and it's lovely.

good blog though.

2:33 PM EST  

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