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Friday, May 09, 2008

Perfume Review: Worth Courtesan and a Prize Draw

March of Perfume Posse introduced me (and most of the perfumanity) to Courtesan by Worth, and I hope she will forgive me this review. It is not negative. I think Courtesan is ...unique. And I admire originality regardless of whether I can actually wear the fragrance in question.

If you go to Worth website, it will tell you in plenty of detail what notes Courtesan is supposed to contain. But here is what it smells like to me...It smells of my childhood. More specifically, it smells of my Soviet rubber (plastic? chemist I am not) dolls. More specifically, it smells of their bellies (don't ask!). And more specifically still, it smells of their bellies after they have been handled by my chubby little fingers sticky with strawberry jam. That is the image I get every single time I put on Courtesan, and it is an image that makes me go, awww! I had a happy childhood and am always delighted to revisit it. And so thank you, Worth, and thank you, March!

Please share your strangest perfume associations! And if you would like to be in the draw for a sample of Courtesan as well as a sample of another sticky wonder, Montale Mukhallat, along with Montale Sunset Flowers, Golden Aoud and White Musk, let me know in your comment.

(I couldn't find a picture with a doll, so here is yours truly with a bear. Which, incidentally, smelled like Mitsouko.)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Совсем не изменилась )

10:15 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...


10:20 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I have to write that it was PoTL and it was all your fault! That's right!

PoTL I spritzed at ScentBar after reading about your experiences with it (don't give me that look and remind me you'd warned me.) and got about a second and a half of almonds and them Play-Doh. Play-Doh and the plastic extruder toys we kids used to make it into interesting shapes like letters. Honestly, all I needed was a footie jumper, Sesame Street, some cat-in-the-hat books and my over-eagertohavetheirlittlepumpkinreadingbeforefour parents (I think they wanted to lord it over the rest of the parents at the club, but if giving me a 3 book a week habit was the worst they did, G-d love 'em) around to make the experience complete.

Needless to write, a shower was hours off..

There. My sad and tragic story should automatically get me samples, right?


11:01 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's you? You're absolutely precious! Awwww!!!

Can't think of any strange associations ... will think on it & post back if I do. No need for the draw, Montale & I still are not getting along ....

1:06 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love that photo of you! Adorable!

The first time I smelled Dior Dolce Vita I immediately thought of a dress I had when I was ten or eleven. It was dark pink jersey, handsewn by my mother.

I wore it to a garden birthday party and -- clumsy me! -- spilled Pepsi all over it. I didn't want to tell my mother what I had done, so instead of putting it in the laundry hamper, I stuffed it in back of my closet. Weeks later, my mother found it. It was a sticky mess! She wasn't angry, just confused that I had hidden it from her.

I know the fragrance notes of Dolce Vita are cedar and peaches and vanilla, but whenever I smell it I smell that filthy cotton jersey dress. When I first sniffed that perfume, I knew I had to have it -- it is my first fragrance love, and still one of my very favorites.

I would love to be in the sample drawing, by the way!

1:15 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a cutie! I can just imagine those little sticky fingers on that doll's tummy. . .

I wasn't allowed to wear any scent, and our diet didn't include any violently-colored or artificially enhanced food. So when Patty-Ann invited me to her house for a sleep-over right after Easter, I was thrilled. We snuck into her parents bedroom and shared a spritz of Emeraude and ate those brightly colored, long-shaped sugar eggs that have a semi-hard sugary shell and a slightly softer sticky-sugar inside.

And when someone mentions Easter, I smell Emeraude.

Sure, I'm up for the drawing, too.

1:32 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww..what a cute picture, M!
Strange associations-My husband's associations are stranger than mine so here are some:
He smelled the frankincense that Andy was handing out to be smelt in the scent bar (last year) and said it smelt like a hospital..(embarrasing!!)..He smelled an empty vial of Aimez Moi and said it smelt like a medicine..*rolls eyes*...(may have been the clove and anise?)
Incense Rose reminds me of the strongly scented supari(mouth freshner) that you get in North India..its not that strange of an association because the supari is infact scented with rose essence etc(and I *do* like that smell)
There is a note in Le Maroc Pour Elle that reminds me of turmeric..and Andy said there wasn't any in it...strange..

Thats all I can think of right now (They mostly seem to be 'Andy Tauer related..:))

Oh..and Yes- I'd love to be entered in the drawing..:)

1:32 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exlix la Perla smells of a freshly opened can of sardines to me. With a side of vanilla. No wonder I can't and won't wear it! ;-)). It's not unpleasant, just very, very weird (and reminds me of Franquin's comic series about Gaston Lagaffe, the office boy who - among other weird adventures - cooks salt cod with bananas and caramel and other weird combinations on his office cooker).

I'd love to be in the drawing, thanks!

3:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Gail S said...

Well, not sure it's a scent memory (or maybe it is), but the most inappropriate perfume association I can think of is Miss Dior Cherie. All I can think of when my daughter wears it is the ladies room in a smoky nightclub. Full of drunk women putting on makeup and spraying hairspray (and of course, smoking). Not sure what that's about.....

3:37 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently bought a Slatkin candle that took me back to childhood. The kind? Iced Tea. It smells like sweet lemon iced tea mix that we used to eat by sticking our fingers in the jar and licking them. When going through some random samples recently, I noticed that Etro Etra gave me the same memory. I think I'll wear it today! Please enter me in the drawing...hvs

4:10 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Awwww, you are adorable (no surprise there)!

I don't have any REALLY strange ones, but if I try to wear Le Labo Vetiver, I smell like my father (I think that it reminds me of his pipe tobacco, rather than any cologne). Mr. Lily, however, can wear it and smell only like himself. What is the Montale like?

5:56 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

your memory is way cuter than the scent that provoked it :-)

6:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you :-)

6:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Loved reading your memory! I wonder if it's Pepsi that connects the dress and the scent?
You are in the draw.

6:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Emeraude and Easter eggs. Makes sense! :-)

6:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Actually I agree with your husband on frankincense and Aimez-Moi :-)
You are in the draw.

6:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oy, reading that, at 6am! :-)

6:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yep, that's where it belongs :-)

6:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Those are yummy memories.
You are in the draw.

6:48 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Which of the Montales? Mukhallat. Scary stuff. Almost as scary as KM Loukhoum. Only with strawberry, not cherry.
The scent that reminds me of my dad is, strangely, KM Scarlett :-)

6:49 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

I'm happy it makes you happy to smell Courtesan! And not so strange, but if I wear a particular fragrance on a foreign trip, the fragrance takes me right back there. So. Mandragore = Paris, Courtesan = London, OJ Champaca = Bangkok.

7:29 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a sweet picture!
I can't wear dior addict anymore, it was my first perfume love, and I wore it exclusively around the time I got my wisdom teeth out, and I associate it with the memory of having those awful, open pits in my jaw. ugh.
please include me in the draw, I've been meaning to try worth!

8:25 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Courtesan smelled like that old fruit-striped gum. I don't think they make it any longer. I definitely don't want to smell like that. I'm glad you have better associations with it.

I'd love to be entered in the drawing for those samples--all things I'd love to try!


10:36 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

That is so cute! Can't think of any strange associations offhand...
but would love to be in the drawing:-) Thanks.

10:44 AM EDT  
Blogger dsb said...

I was trying Tocade the other day and my son said I smelt like "Nona's nursing home." Not a pleasant thought!

Please enter me in the drawing...I'm a newbie and would love to try any of those scents!

10:44 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. You made me want to try Courtesan with this one, although I had read the raves on Perfume Posse before.

As far as my perfume associations - Le Labo Patchouli brought me back to sitting around the campfire during childhood family camping trips. I loved it instantly!

I'd love to be entered in the drawing. :)

11:11 AM EDT  
Blogger Claudia said...

I have this perfume called "Python." I think my sister gave it to me in the '80's. I can't wear it because it's very strong, and smells just like Wyler's Grape Drink! I don't get rid of it though, because whenever I take a whiff, I'm transported back to the '70's, when purple, super-sweet Wyler's was what we drank all summer!

Please include me in the draw. :-)

11:42 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bois d'Argent still smells, to me, like the brown, cyllindrical feed pellets that one pays a quarter for in order to feed the goats at a petting zoo, specifically, the petting zoo at Quassy theme park in CT, where I spent many a fun day in my youth.

Please enter me in the drawing!

12:06 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strange perfume associations. . . well, I'm not trying to be disgusting, but to me some fragrances smell like cat urine. I don't mean a hint, or a slight trace, but simply IT. I hope someone with greater knowledge of the subject can tell me what ingredient could smell like cat urine to some noses and not at all to others. I don't want to name the offending fragrances, but will in a private email if you're interested. Sorry to bring up such an unpleasant association! I hope I can still be entered in your drawing!

2:32 PM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

I love that story!
Can't recall any scent that has brought me back to childhood - perhaps because my mother is sensitive to scents and never wore any perfume so I never got into the habit of paying attention to smells... Actually, I think my nose is not very good, though it certainly has improved since I became a perfumaniac!
Creed Cuir de russie smells like silver and gold felt tip pens though, which reminds me of the Christmas cards to a gazillion friends and relatives my parents made me and my sister draw each year...
Guet-Apens/Attrape-Coeur reminds me of how I used to take riding lessons as a kid - smells like horse if a perfume ever did and I mean that in the best possible way! (I can't be crazy, Equistrius is an iris/amber scent too - though I admit that one doesn't actually smell like horses...)
L'air de rien reminds me of the comfy/musty/exotic scent in some apartment or house I've visited as a kid though I can't quite place it...
Acqua di Biella Bursch smells like coconut suntan lotion...
I'd love to be in the draw!

2:39 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As soon as I saw that cute baby picture I said "AWWW". Such a cutie of a baby that you were, love those little chubby hands and that little cleft on your chin. My fragrance recollection is that when L'eau de Issey came out I went to Saks to buy it and was so thrilled with my purchase, shortly after that, unknown to me in the beginning, I became pregnant and every time I smelled Issey I would just retch, turn absolutely green and have to lie down for fear of getting violently ill. I have been unable to wear it since then, and my daughter is 13. Go figure. Please put me in the drawing!!

2:49 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A response to Panteralilly: my mother had a similar reaction, repulsed ever after by the smell of Jean Nate because she associated it with the nausea of early pregnancy (she had been working her way through a large gift bottle around the time she became pregnant). Forewarned by her experience, I avoided all fragrances while I was on chemotherapy and for many months thereafter, for fear I'd develop similar associations. Something to watch out for!

3:17 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Courtesan is an odd one -- it does nothing for me at all, either way. I don't usually have such "meh" reactions to things March adores, so it is sitting in my purgatory basket waiting for another try.

3:25 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to me, maroussia, which i recently wrote about, is more "courtesan" than worth courtesan. courtesan is nice, but not sexy the way maroussia is. i feel maroussia would've been well-named courtesan.

i love your baby photo - you look like you do now and vice-versa!

i'd love to be entered in your drawing. thanks! - minette/

4:24 PM EDT  
Blogger Vireo Perfumes said...

LOVES FRESH LEMON which I have only smelled in the air once since the early 80's time machined me fully in body and soul back to the detailed sights and into my preteen body in the upper hallway of my school.
That freaked me out!

(Raunchy warning!)

Rive Gauche
Has the same affect but takes me back to being 16 the day me and my best friend were pilfering through her very proper mom's bathroom full of fancy make-up. The bathroom was adjacent to her mom's and new stepfathers bedroom.
That day after school when I first smelled it she showed me two hand prints in the carpet with a snicker. It took me a moment to fully comprehend what my friend was giggling about.
I still can't smell, see that darn bottle with out feeling confused. At the time because I thought all fancy perfume was supposed to smell good. I couldn't tell if I loved or hated Rive Gauche.
I desperately wanted nice things then as I grew up pretty darn poor.

Um if you have made it this far please enter me in the prize draw.

5:03 PM EDT  
Blogger 734elizabeths said...

CB I Hate Perfume Black March: I love the beginning and the middle, but the drydown... it takes me back to the piano lesson camp for beginners I foolishly enrolled my 7-yr-old son in. It turned out to be staffed entirely by piano teachers straight out of central casting - coiffed white hair stiff with hair spray, yellow cardigans fastened at the top with a little chain, and bad, bad breath. He wouldn't stay, and I couldn't blame him, because my own childhood experiences with piano teachers such as greasy Ms. Pyle and mean Mrs. Flowers were rushing back, so we beat a hasty retreat. The drydown of Black March smells just like mean piano teacher bad breath to me. Ugh. (Joe now has piano lessons with a lovely woman with a great sense of humor and a high tolerance for energetic boys - and he loves her.)

I'd love to be entered in the drawing!

7:33 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an adorable photo! Cute association and so nostalgic. I know exactly the smell you are talking about. Maybe it is heliotropine? Vika

8:44 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shalimar smells of my Great-Aunt Ruth's closet in North Hollywood in the sixty's.

Thanks for the drawing!

8:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

That would be a great idea for a post!

9:20 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

a visit to a dentist can spoil a nice scent like nothing else can :-(

9:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I can see the gum association, for sure.

9:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You are in!

9:24 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

aw, poor Tocade :-)
You are in!

9:25 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love when scents have a nostalgia factor, even when it's an odd one.

I'd love to be in the draw... mostly for those Montales! Just curious, have you or do you know anyone who's tried the Montale Aoud Oeillet d'Inde yet? I've been craving a sample for weeks now and have just been to lazy (actually, busy buying other things) to order it from TPC.

10:33 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's an odd one: one that brought up some bad memories of being a small child experiencing, for the first time, a NYC subway station entrance that really smelled bad due to visitors who didn't find the facilities = Alexander Mcqueen Kingdom (well, at least some component of the fragrance itself). Not a pleasant olfactory memory, but at least one that actually was provoked. Please enter me into the drawing as well.

12:32 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got two:

1. Creed Cuir de Russie smells like the sticky part of a bandaid on my skin. That's not necessarily a bad thing--as a kid, I used to steal bandaids, peel the gauze off, and carry around the rest to sniff.

2. Which I will preface with: I was a naughty teenager and I'm all better now, swear. So we'd found this girl who had some acid, except it had been in her front jeans pocket and she had spilled a bottle of Red Door on them. Blotter paper, it turns out, is a great medium for scent. And taste. The worst taste ever--we tried shoving the tabs into orange slices or gelcaps, but even swallowed whole, you'd belch up Red Door every few minutes. Then you'd be really, really high. To this day, I have to leave any room/train car/elevator if someone is wearing Red Door.

Drawing, please!

12:52 AM EDT  
Blogger oedipa said...

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie reminds me of my "bad" friend in junior high. I think it's highly reminiscent of the combined scents of cheap shampoo and stale cigarette smoke. She was great, but I still hate Petite Cherie.

I'd love to be in for the draw. :)

12:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Marina,
That's funny! I always thought I was the only one who kept smelling my childhood rubber dolls everywhere... mostly in the dry-downs. It first hit me with L'heure bleue, I guess that is one of the reasons why I keep going back to it, especially to the parfum, but then recently I discovered an even closer match in the drydown of Tres Russe by Institute Tres Bien - a bit less sweet, and yes, there is also something in Dolce Vita that whispers fresh 'Nancy rubber doll'-ness to me. I have been speculating over some of the fixative bases: benzoin?

Victoria, you have suggested heliotropin, is it milky and balsamic with a cut of sweetness but dry-powdery?

Cheers, Olga
(and yes please, draw me in as well)

4:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Joyti said...

Awww, you were an adorable baby.
Apres L'Ondee - which is one of my favorite scents - reminds me of Johnson & Johnson's baby lotion (at least the way J&J baby lotion smelled in the 80's).

5:48 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jovan Musk. The Scent of a Fast Girl (or so said my mom). I was trying a new friend in junior high, and she walked into the house, and my mom shot me a LOOK. It wasn't until the next day, however, when mom made one of her only comments about perfume OR fast girls, and in her opinion, musk + on that girl = both. I therefore thought for a long time that all high school girls were "fast," because the friend smelled like a lot of my other friend's older sisters.

Also the first perfume other than Nana's Avon to give me a perfume headache.

Please enter me in the draw...would love a chance to try some more fragrances, and see where I fall on the Courtesan spectrum.

7:15 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please enter me in the drawing. Cabochard reminds me of my mother and early childhood. I used to play with the small empty bottle that had a gray velvet ribbon. I wish I still had it.

8:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Elspeth said...

Aqua Allegoria Angelique Lilas smells like a tube of sunscreen that I bought in Germany on my trip to Berlin and Paris two summers ago. It reminds me of getting tan since I, the palest person in the world, could only find spf20.

I smell a note of horse poop in Gucci by Gucci. It smells like a very wealthy woman riding a horse.

I would like to be entered in the drawing too.

9:03 PM EDT  
Blogger Alba said...

I love L'Artisan's Timbuktu. I always get that woody but clean smell and sometimes...I get celery. I don't know why, and it doesn't always happen, but when it does, it always amazes me. Does anyone else notice it?
(please enter me in the poll)

6:27 AM EDT  
Blogger zara said...

the pair 'courtesan (the name)' and 'childhood memories of rubber toys' is actually quite funny. :) for me, tann rokka kisu, its drydown to be exact, reminds me of the soap i used when we were kids.
the drawing, i'm in!

1:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am glad it made you want to try Courtesan :-)

7:03 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

is that Trussardi Python?

7:04 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

heh, what an unexpected comparison! :-)

7:04 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Sometimes blackberry note smells to me like that

7:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Attrape-Coeur and horses, Bursh and coconut...I want to borrow your nose for a while and smell them the way you do :-)

7:06 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

pregnancy hormone changes spoiled a whole (fruity) family of fragrance for me, so I can relate

7:07 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

*in gossipy tone* I am actually surprised March loves this one so. It is so un-March :-)

7:08 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I must, must re-visit Maroussia. There is also Authentic Maroussia, have you tried that one?

7:08 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Ooh la la Rive Gauche :-)

7:09 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

My associations re: Black March disturb me, but yours are even worse, oy! :-)

7:10 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

thank you! :-)
That must be it!

7:10 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

it seems then that your aunt had a chic closet, no?

7:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am dying to try Montale's carnation too

7:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Am very familiar with that smell indeed :-(

7:12 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

The 2nd part actually made me laugh out loud :-D

7:12 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I associate high school with hair spray and apple shampoo :-)

7:13 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am glad I am not alone :-)

7:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I need to get me some vintage J&J lotion :-)

7:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

tee hee, fast girl, that is so funny! :-)

7:15 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

that is such a wonderful bottle!

7:15 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

a very wealthy woman riding a horse...I like that!

7:16 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yep...and as soon as you first realize that is what you are smelling there is no way of smelling anything else there. :-)

7:16 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I know, funny, right? :-)

7:17 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've recently been tormented by a sample of Laura Mercier's l'heure magique. It definitely reminds me of something from my childhood -- it has to be the carnation smell. It drives me CRAZY, almost to the point of sleepless-ness and tears that I can't pin-point exactly what it is I'm smelling/remembering. Anyone else have any opinions on l'heure magique that might help my addled brain/memories?

3:52 PM EDT  
Blogger Claudia said...


I don't think so. It sure doesn't look like the pictures I've seen of the Trussardi. It just says Python (Paris) on the front of the bottle along with a picture of a python. If there was ever a label on the bottom, it's long gone!

4:19 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, marina, i bought a little bottle of authentic maroussia, but it didn't do much for me - it's like a watered-down maroussia with some fresh notes thrown in (fresh notes are often my nemisis). i would like to try the latest one, nikita - have you tried it? - minette

4:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Heather said...

Anything with Honeysuckle reminds me of the big bush in our backyard when I was a kid. I loved smelling it, but was always afraid of the bees that were always all over it. Damn the stings, I loved to get up close to it, though! I'd love to try Courtesan! Strawberry plastic sounds interesting. Like a sweeter Musc Ravageur! Sign me up for the sample drawing! And, thanks, I love your blog!


2:35 PM EDT  
Blogger multitasker said...

I read a mag article about the formulation of Clinique Simply before it was available that made me want to try it--something about the smell of babies and how everyone loves the way little (clean) babies smell. I sniffed. Simply was immedietly familiar. Ah--my childhood. Barbie hair. Of course I didn't buy it!

My other association is with Chinatown--much more boring. It smells like an import store (in Chinatown)to me. Big surprise.

Please sign me up for the drawing. BTW, cute pic!

6:23 AM EDT  

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