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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sniffing at Sephora: Gucci Flora, Tocca Brigitte, Guerlain Figue-Iris, Philosophy Unconditional Love

I don't usually go to Sephora expecting to meet a prince in a perfume bottle, so to say, but rather to kiss a lot of frogs. This time it wasn't that bad, which means that either the mainstream is getting better or that I am getting mainstream. Nah...neither is likely. I must have been in a particularly good mood.

Seriously though, Tocca's new Brigitte, inspired by Bardot and meant to take the wearer for a bike ride in the south of France, mainly through Marseille's spice market, is almost prince material. On me, the fragrance skips both rhubard and papaya, declared in the list of notes. A pity about rhubard, but thank goodness for no papaya. The composition rides straight into that spice market, with ginger and saffron being the most prominent notes on my skin, throughout the scent's development. The soft floral aspect (rose, iris), softens the piquancy (which makes sense concept-wise, but again a pity me-wise), while sandalwood in the base doesn't let it become too thin. Were the perfume a little more intense, had a little more oomph and ooh-la-la about it, I would have been tempted to buy it. ($30.00-$68.00 for 0.15-1.7oz)

I haven't smelled Guerlain's Figue-Iris in 2008, when it came out, because I tend to loathe fig in perfume (with very few exceptions) and am so very tired of iris after the last couple of years of it being everywhere. So I smelled this Aqua Allegoria with much caution only to discover that it is shockingly lovely. Iris tones down the green coconutty figgyness of the fig, while fig makes the ubiquitous iris interesting again. The fragrance is fresh, but not too much so, sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. It is posed gracefully somewhere in-between being fruity-green and floral, and I imagine it would wear delightfully in the heat of summer. I would never use up the whole bottle, but thumbs up to Guerlain for finally producing an impressive Aqua Allegoria. ($57.00 for 2.5oz)

I was almost ready to give thumbs up to Gucci too, for their new Flora, because I liked the beginning of the composition. Peony did a cute little dance with citruses in the top notes, all tastefully sparkly and fresh-faced, and I am in a mood for this kind of clean-ish, conventional prettiness right now. I mean, yes, it is generic all right, but pretty-generic. Not that I was even half-thinking of buying a bottle, but if I were, heart and base notes would have dissuaded me. Osmanthus, rose and sandalwood made Flora unexpectedly creamy, and apparently creamy is a no-no for me right now, when it comes to florals. After the easy-breezy start, there was something too blunt and persistent about the floral-woody accord. I suppose, I should have felt that it gave the perfume depth and substance, but instead I felt bothered by it. Still, compared to a lot of other scents on Sephora's shelves, Flora is quite nicely done, and, because of that weighty creaminess, not as young-smelling as the copy would lead you to believe. Not a prince by a long stretch, but not a frog either. ($52.00-$90.00 for 1oz-2.5oz)

Philosophy's Unconditional Love, on the other hand, is as froggy as it gets. Allow me to channel Seth Meyers here for a moment and ask, REALLY, Philosophy? Really? Unconditional Love, really? You saw it fit to use such Big words for such a tiny scent? "Unforgettable fragrance", really? Now what would make it so? The generic (and not pretty-generic) berry? The cheap vanilla? The pale musk drydown? Ribbi...I mean, really? And what's with the twee, cliche-ridden copy, Philosophy? I do "treasure the fact that real love stories never end." I also treasure the fact that this scent does, in two hours. ($40.00 for 1.7oz)

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Anonymous Lavanya said...

Enjoyed your review, M. I usually don't venture to the perfume section of Sephora. (Thanks to you-I've been sticking to the nail polish ended up buying metro chic..*love* and call your mother which looks NICE on my toes, especially when paired with my copper sulphate blue-lined flip flops..:D)

Next time, I will probably be tempted to sniff Brigitte and Figue- Iris.

And I'm LMAO at the last, channeling Seth Myers bit..

Not to put any pressure on you- but I missed your weekend nail polish post..:)..Oh and I've been placing nail polishes in and out of my cart on transdesign and head2toebeauty. If it wasn't for the shipping (almost $10), I probably would have placed my order by now..:)

12:29 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

LOL, LOVE the Seth Myers schtick! :-D

I am impressed with the Tocca line, it's one of the best things Sephora has, lost amid all the bland stuff. And thanks for the warning about the Philosophy, I have found that line to be overrated from what I have tried of it.

1:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

Now I finally know where my friend Blair gets her "really?" from. Thanks! I personally always used to love hanging in Sephora, but they used to have all the Guerlains, Diors, Goutals and a bunch of other stuff that has been scaled back. Still fun.

2:16 AM EDT  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

Hm, it's a pain to say "I'm mainstream", but I liked Guerlain's Figue & Iris, I even wore it last year... And I love, love, love Peter Gabriel (and he's definitely no mainstream...).

And today I can't part my nose from my wrist, where is LeLabo's Oud (Tom was right...)

3:17 AM EDT  
Anonymous JAntoinette said...

Hilarious! (and I am on my way to Sephora to stick my nose into the Tocca...)

5:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Well, the their OPI section is the best part f the store, for sure :-) Unfortunately the Sephora I went to did not have the new Mermaid collection. This week, there will be a nail post :-)

7:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I got to try, not at Sephora, Tocca's new Giuliette, it is also very pretty, a floral, I think you might like it too.

7:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh it is definitely fun. But makeup sections more so than perfume ones :-)

7:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I wouldn't call Guerlain's Figue & Iris mainstream. And Le Labo Oud is the very opposite of mainstream for sure :-)

7:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you, and do tell what you think of the Tocca.

7:26 AM EDT  
Blogger indieperfumes said...

Thanks for putting up that crazy video; loved it (not so crazy about the song tho). I too have been enjoying your nail polish posts, but my nails are not really polish worthy, so it's a matchstick girl kind of admiration for all of you who have such nice nails...
nail color has gotten to be such an involved and involving sub-genre of self adornment lately.

7:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you. I found out that nails become polish worthy as soon as you start using nail polish regularly, really.

7:54 AM EDT  
Blogger melisand61 said...

Ah, someone else who has difficulty with fig! Not one fig scent has rocked my world, so this sounds like a must-try since it is muted by iris. I still love my iris scents.

The Gucci did nothing for me. I agree that it opened nicely, but the drydown had that strange patch/woody/synthetic, and dare I say cheap (?) vibe that too many designer fragrances possess.

I will definitely try Brigette, and I will probably like it even if it has a touch of papaya. But the Philosophy? I will take your word for it and stay away!

Thanks for the Sephora review. Sometimes it it is fun to look for princes among frogs.

8:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Do try the Aqua Allegoria, I think this is the fig for figophobiacs :-)

8:30 AM EDT  
Blogger Koki said...

I tend to like the Gucci perfumes that were created when Tom Ford was in charge - Envy being one of my summer standards. Based on that loyalty I tried Flora at Bloomie's a couple of weeks ago and did a "meh" at first. Was surprised that it got a lot more interesting on me in the dry-down and a couple of hours into it! Glad to read the (somewhat) favorable review. May get a decant - .

9:08 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

so you liked the 2nd half, I liked the first half. :-) Together it makes a very favorable review :-)

9:10 AM EDT  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

Love Love Love the Guerlain......Hate Hate Hate the Philosophy.......And I adore Peter Gabriel at any moment of the day!
Thank you M for such an entertaining post:)

9:27 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

From now on, I shall think of Sephora as having a little frog as its logo. That Guerlain does indeed sound promising. May be near a Sephora this afternoon and will give it a sniff. The only Philosophy scents I've cared for at all are a few of their shower gels (black licorice, pumpkin spice and eggnog).

9:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am glad to have entertained you a little with the help of Mr Gabriel :-)

10:13 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yes, I will begrudgingly agree that some of the gels are good :-)

10:13 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I am so going to have to go and try Unconditional Love..

12:07 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am trying you imagine wearing that...failing to imagine. :-)

12:09 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

With Peter Gabriel aboard I can take almost anything, even Flora's drydown. I tried it in a simile of Sephora in these regions, "April", and couldn't accept the all pervasive generic odour it produced after the first ten minutes. And yes, we miss your nail posts, inventive and aethetic.

2:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh so much nail pressure! :-) I am glad you enjoy the series though!

2:25 PM EDT  
Anonymous Lavanya said...

Marine- regarding your response to Lucy- that is sooo true!! The one week that I wore metro chic on my finger nails, my nails didn't chip, I didn't 'tear' my nails (which I usually do), I moisturized my hands even more than usual etc..It was quite funny to see how much more careful I was with my nails..:)

8:09 PM EDT  
Anonymous Lavanya said...

I meant Marina nor Marine..:)

8:10 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You know, I strongly believe as well that there is something in polish that makes nails harder.

8:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

:-)not just pressure, but a desire to find the perfect discreet yet sexy hue...a whole quest...

3:13 AM EDT  
Anonymous Victoria said...

Hmm, you make me want to smell Brigitte. Of course, anything mentioning Bardot and the south of France are likely to capture my interest.

Cannot get past Philosophy's copy to enjoy anything (and then again, the quality of their products leaves a lot to be desired.)

11:14 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh yeah, that's a task and half! :-)

1:01 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I can't get past it too, it is just so twee.

1:02 PM EDT  

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