Product watch: Scents for Mother's Day

Mark Mother’s Day with one of this season’s most beautiful scents, writes Rachel Marie Walsh.

Proenza Schouler Arizona

Carolina Herrera Good Girl, €54.50/30ml

If she likes… Christian Dior Poison, Yves Saint Laurent Opium or Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb.

Smooth pavements provide no traction for heels when it is icy out. Municipal councils are very supportive of impractical footwear choices, with their cleaners and their maintenance and their bin provision, and I thank them, but they control neither weather nor physical law, so I can either rely on kind strangers to keep me upright this week (I am also thankful for urban overcrowding) or resist my inclinations. I’m just not the same without them.

Carolina Herrera engages the “power of the heel” with her new perfume, bottling it with a black stiletto and claiming it “empowers the wearer to be her total self and make the city her own”. Fragrance launches come with digital shorts now and Good Girl’s has Karlie Kloss triggering lightning bolts, floral explosions, flying men and general chaos just by walking down the street in stilettos.

The strap-line, “Well-Behaved Girls Seldom Make History,” paraphrases the oft-commercialised quote from historian and second-wave feminist Laurel Thatcher-Ulrich.

There is a conflict here: Second-wave feminism viewed stilettos as hyper-patriarchal instruments of restriction (feminists protesting the 1968 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City famously threw heels, bras and curlers into a “freedom” bin). Fourth-wave feminism, however, is filled with intersectional conflicts — generational (et tu, Madame Deneuve?), cultural (the 2017 Miss Russia runner-up told a press conference that Vladimir Putin halted all domestic violence in her country; no airhead she) – the list goes on and may be wide-ranging enough for Herrera to get away with a broad pitch. 

The perfume itself is lovely, a knockout bouquet of tuberose, orris, almond and Jasmine Sambac. The coffee, vanilla and warm sandalwood notes represent the titular girl’s bad side.

Chloé Nomade €54.50/30ml

If she likes... Burberry My Burberry, Estée Lauder Sensuous or Giorgio Armani Sí.

Perfume in bottles shaped like things women like are a trend. Chloé Nomade’s bottle echoes the brand’s popular ‘Drew’ bag, a cross-body saddle bag with a shoulder chain. Perfect for a nomad, no? Or even just a perfume that says “pick me up!” Chloé’s existent scents are very commercial, all variants of classic rose, with fruity or powdery complements. This one, launched a comfortable decade after the brand’s return to fragrance, is a bit more risky: A floral-chypre, heady and quite traditionally Parisian.

The designer, Quentin Bisch, featured in BBC Four documentary Perfume: Bottling the Memory and was inspired to go into fragrance at the age of 11 by a charismatic French teacher, who returned papers smelling of cigarettes and YSL Opium.

His formulas, which include Ex Nihilo’s Fleur Narcotique and Mugler Angel Muse, can be a touch narcotic and very sweet. This one is a mix of softness and strength. An intoxicating oak moss is shrouded in the voluptuous sweetness of the mirabelle plum. From this freshness emanates a mix of freesia, peach and patchouli.

Dolce & Gabbana Dolce Garden, €79/50m

If she likes… Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire, Kenzo Flower or Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne.

Stefano Gabbana’s maternal memories are filled with flowers, not only because he thinks they’re what you gift on Mother’s Day, but because Mrs Gabbana’s lipstick smelled of roses (as does all of Dolce & Gabbana’s current lip collection). When he and Domenico made mothers their Autumn 2015 muses (sending babes in arms and a heavily pregnant Bianca Balti down the catwalk) the clothes featured oversize floral appliqués and messages like “For The World’s Most Beautiful Mama” in child-scrawl.

Garden is a rose-detailed bottle of similarly sweet, uncomplicated joy. Opening notes include a home-inspired blend of Sicilian citrus. There is coconut milk, neroli, and frangipani at the heart and a delicious vanilla-sandalwood base.

Proenza Schouler Arizona €58/30ml

If she likes… Gucci Premiere or Marc Jacobs Splash Cotton.

Arizona is the first fragrance by New York designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez (Proenza and Schouler are their mothers’ maiden names). This side of the pond they are best known for their PS2 and PS11 satchel-bags, but the company is almost half-European, thanks to the Valentino Fashion Group’s 45% stake.

They recently started showing at Paris Fashion Week and inked a perfume deal with L’Oréal in 2015. The three-year wait is down to discerning tastes: They wanted to include a desert flower that blooms one night a year and had never been used in perfume.

The Grand Canyon State’s Sonoran Desert is a favourite road trip for the design duo, who also collected crystals during research trips, including the quartz that inspired the bottle. This is a distinctive woody floral musk.

The formula is complex, but irresistible, with an orris and torch-cactus blossom heart. It also smells like they’ve bottled the desert sun, blending jasmine, orange flower, solar accord and cashmeran.

I hesitate to call any scent the new Flowerbomb when we all adore Viktor and Rolf’s signature, but Arizona has “hit” written all over it.

Louis Vuitton Le Jour Se Lève, €210/100ml available at Brown Thomas from March 15.

If she likes… Givenchy Dahlia Divin, Vera Wang Flower Princess or Versace Bright Crystal.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day and Louis Vuitton’s new scent is all about feeling good.

This is a luxurious, fruit-floral fragrance that perfumer Jacque Cavillier calls “edgy yummy”.

Opening with a burst of mandarin — one of his favourite ingredients — the mix fades into Chinese Jasmine Sambac, magnolia petals, apricot-tinged osmanthus and a subtly tangy blackcurrant accord. These dry down to a sweet chorus of musks. The weighty apothecary-style bottle is made to be kept and refills are available on counters.


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