Gap, one of the temples of ready-made wear for the young and the slightly less young (portraits of actors Liev Schreiber and Ken Watanabe in the store's men section added a touch of maturity to the brand's image as we noticed in passing), has launched two new lines of fragrances. The one we are reviewing today includes six eaux de toilette which are called Lavender Tea No. 362, Coconut Tuberose No. 821, Mandarin Jasmine No. 094, Velvet Bloom No. 695, Washed Cotton No. 784, and White Amber No. 541. The other one is conceived more as an after-the-bath line and proposes a range of body mists.
Over the past, Gap has launched several lines of easy-to-wear fragrances, which were always laid-back, unpretentious, fun, and often better than expected. The popular yet discontinued Gap Grass for example has generated a discreet cult following and can now be found for upwards of a $100 on auction sites and Ava-Luxe offers a Gap Grass type of scent.......
In keeping with this tradition, the new line is very Gap-like, that is clean, pleasant, charming, and potentially fun to play with. Given the price point at normally $28 for 100 ml and currently $21 on their website (and only there), it will have easy appeal once more and might even be more endearing than average to some.
In our experience as a life-long perfume huntress we have come to understand that there is a myth that is very much alive and keeps the perfume quest fun and the fragrance-seeker on his or her toes. This myth is that of the henceforth called hidden-perfume-treasure-found-on-the-lowest shelf-at-an-obscure-supermarket. Better still make it a Chinese or Thai or Czechoslovakian supermarket. The last reference is not accidental. One of the two favorite fragrances of French actress Virginie Ledoyen is a perfume called "Love" that she found in a supermarket in Czechoslovakia. Of course this myth is linked to myths of abundance and cornucopia that were developed over the course of history by people who suffered from cyclical famines. Because if you find the perfume at the local supermarket of an unknown town, preferably one that looks very blurry on the world map, but whose inhabitants have very particular tastes and access to rare, off-the-factory-shelves resources, then the perfume is going to cost nothing or nearly nothing and you will be able to clean the shelves, discreetly of course, so as not to call undue attention to your find.
In fact because the ideal fragrance should preferably be mysterious, it is more desirable in a way to imagine that a perfume long-overlooked by philistines who rush to the doors of Chanel and Dior will be yours and yours only once you find it. In a variation of this approach, we propose also to look for rare Indian and Chinese grocery-store soaps for example because in fact these are much neglected resources for unheard-of fragrances that might just click perfectly with your skin and lock in this unique signature trail of yours.
Gap perfume offerings can be seen as a variation of this myth. Gap is not a premiere destination for fragrances and therefore will be neglected by many of the people who go to Sephora. Behind the lingerie you will happen on understated perfumes that nevertheless aim to please you sincerely. They smell nice and they are affordable. The wily coquette in you might just have found your fix to disorient your entourage. The more so since the Gap line was conceived, like the Jo Malone line, to be layered. This is one more angle of attack you can choose to use.
• Washed Cotton No. 784
This was a good surprise. For nostalgics of Gap Grass, please note that this recreates part of the green grassy appeal of that perfume. It should smell only of clean laundry given its name but in reality it smells of clean laundry drying on a grassy lawn while being caressed by the breeze. It starts like Grass and evolves into the smell of very clean tee-shirt in the dry-down.
• Coconut Tuberose No. 821
As promised it combines the scents of tuberose and coconut with an edge of citrus. It is not particularly subtle, but it is not coarse either. It feels like it would appeal most to young women. Pretty in a very mainstream way.
• Lavender Tea No. 362
A light amber-y lavender that dries down to a light feminine fougère impression.
• Mandarin Jasmine No.094
The perfume is promising in the beginning, allying a dewy juicy jasmine with a bit of an overbearing mandarin, which seduces for a time only because it is definitely cheery. Candied overtones take over with time, which will appeal to people who like candies.
• White Amber No. 541
A pleasant light to medium-bodied amber with some very minimal smoky and burnt-sugar nuances. The light resinous impression dries down to a light incense-y impression. This one is an obvious candidate for layering, if you like doing that.
• Velvet Bloom No. 695
As suggested by the name, the perfume has a soft velvety floral texture which becomes more powdery with time. It smells a bit like Oh! de Moschino, but more discreet and with a good dose of Tonka bean it seems. The latter part of the development was more attractive than the first part to us, which felt a bit cloying, but other people might enjoy that floral creamy impression. It is the most complex blend in the line, which does not mean very complex but suggests the charming vision of a vintage shabby-chic nightstand on which one can spy a bottle of baby talcum powder next to a simple drinking glass containing a little bouquet of flowers. The Osmanthus note is pretty. The scent is slightly peppery. There is a pleasant drizzle of citrus in the musky-floral dry-down. Velvet Bloom has a little bit of a Victorian charm about it.
All the fragrances in the line being literal eaux de toilette, they are not very long lasting, except for Velvet Bloom, which stays on longer. A purse spray might be in order to refresh yourself during the day.
You can purchase the fragrances online at Gap.
(Engraving from Punch, 1892 via Gutenberg )