The Love 2 Love collection of perfumes, created in collaboration with Walmart, was launched to coincide with Valentine's Day 2014.
Two years later, we take stock and assess the olfactory personalities of the fragrances. But before, let's trace back a bit to the more general commercial and cultural context.
Facts to Ponder: On the State of the Fragrance Mass-Market ca. 2014
From WWD (2014):
"Products for men also propel the body-spray category, a subsegment of fragrance, giving retailers reason for hope. Men's body mist sales gained 49 percent over the 52-week period ended Dec. 28, ignited by products such as Axe Peace, according to IRI.
Women's mists are gaining at a slower pace, growing at 11 percent, but appear to be gaining traction. Among the spray logos with double-digit sales increases were Body Fantasies Signature, Calgon, Bodycology, Axe Anarchy and Secret, according to IRI.
These scents are thought to appeal to pocketbooks, as well as those looking for lighter, everyday options.
To bring newness to mass, Luby at Instyle said his firm has a new time-release body fragrance in eight scents that lasts up to 12 hours. Walgreens will launch four of the scents next month."
A Cultural Approach to Shopping Everywoman's Perfumes
The mass-market for perfumes is one of the best arenas in which to give leeway to your instinct for reverse snobbery. This statement becomes even more painfully obvious when you start taking an international and cosmopolitan approach to beauty and fragrance purchases across borders. It soon comes to your realization that, in fact, mass-marketed perfumes and beauty cream jars are more difficult to access from abroad than designer brands...
The perfume mass-market is paradoxically and culturally a mostly local, well, let's say, domestic, or national playing field. The icons of your drugstore shelves in the US will seldom be found elsewhere. I am talking from an European vantage point. Stetson, Chantilly, White Shoulders, Wind Song and such are far out of reach from your shopping arm when you have crossed the pond. Yes, there is Avon and some of their perfumes are multi-markets. Yes, there is Yves Rocher and their scents are distributed worldwide mostly. But we're talking hardcore mass-market, with an overdose of parking-lot authenticity. The kind you're most likely to be able to buy at Target or Walmart. Those "hidden gems" are well-relegated to the exclusivity of a provincial distribution... on a huge, mass scale nevertheless.
I sometimes happen on a bottle of Jovan musk in so-called ethnic food stores in Paris. Alyssa Ashley if I really need to exhume one of their scents, I might be able to thanks to the Internet. But Blue Waltz or Lady Stetson? But Sonia Kashuk Red Promisia or Pink Innocentia? - It's only available at Target (please pronounce Thar - Zhay, if you're really in the know).
If you live in the States, I am sure that reading about the Solinotes range, Bien-Être eaux de cologne, Durance, Le Couvent des Minîmes or Pierre Cardin can set you on edge. They are everywhere, almost, except very far away from you and not within reach of your inquiring nose.
In truth, the paradox is also experienced at home for those cited perfumes. Even from where I am, i.e., in Paris, France, some of those fragrances are well-nigh impossible to find. If you make a trip to the suburbs and to huge hyper-markets beyond the périphérique, then you will discover a new array of scents almost impossible to find in Paris intra-muros. I was this able to find a perfume by renowned perfumer Dominique Ropion, L'Echappée Belle, on such an outing. It took something like 2 years to see it finally appear on downtown shelves.
So, your curiosity as a perfumista can more often than not be piqued by those Drugstore beauties. I was glad therefore to be able to receive the Love 2 Love collection for last year Valentine's Day, which is only available in Walmart territory, which I started exploring very late as sociologically speaking it was another out-of-the-way world, to which you need to drive on top of that.
As it took some time, a year later, I am again seeing V-Day approach as a good opportunity to review the scents. Their common trait is that they were all composed by great perfumers while being very accessible from a price point perspective.
Goal: "Perfectly Paired Fragrances for Perfect Pairs in Love"...
Les Perfume Reviews
Fresh Rose + Peach by Calice Becker for Givaudan
A delicate fruity rose opens up reminiscent for me of rain-wet English countryside. Then more resinous, darker accents appear to the point of suggesting a crème de cassis liqueur, but always with a light touch. This fresh and dewy rose is inflected by cassis buds and white musk making it almost inky then transparent and veil-like, with a floating hologram of sugared plums. The white musks are never heavily soapy; it's more like the trace of a clean morning shower later in the afternoon. A very pretty scent with an authentic brand of sublety. It has a light aura, which nevertheless deepens but which some might find too fleeting. That latter aspect can be remedied to with multiple applications, a good moisturizing lotion and clement weather, none too dry. The drydown is peachy, creamy and powdery making you think of velvety peach skins.
Orange Blossom + White Musk by Maurice Roucel for Symrise
It starts off powdery and a little raspy. It soon evolves into a heady, sensuous and even carnal honeyed orange blossom with fresh, light eau de Cologne accents. The white musk is more about soapy sensuality than prosaic albeit arguably comforting memories of loading your laundry machine. The composition becomes solar, sunny and blond like a field in hay in the summer. Always lurking beneath it all is an animalic note of clean sweat kissed by orange blossom. We are not yet robots, we are humans. Did futurists by the way address the problem of robots and olfaction? How will robots smell, and do they need to smell? But we digress. This is a lovely, summery and clean orange blossom scent with a hint of pungency. Once we smelled the sillage of a gentleman who was wearing an orange blossom scent with a certain clout. This makes us think that some men might actually enjoy this scent.
Jasmine + Sparkling Mimosa by Richard Herpin for Firmenich
This opens up on a fresh, green note hesitating between angelica and newly cut grass. There is a tea-like impression which is not too far removed from the well-known Elizabeth Arden Green Tea. Soon however, it deepens in a more complex fashion, intensifying and offering multivariegated green nuance, more in the directions of galbanum and mastic; a hint of green then yellow banana scent adds fleshiness and suggests overripeness.
This is a green fruity scent with a fresh, tropical personality. For some reason, I think of the Amazon river and Brazil - not the French Riviera where both jasmine and mimosa are lush. An interesting, high-pitched note of salty sweat is what transpires here as the advertized "skin musk." Th drydown is wlightly woody and soft.
Freesia + Violet Petals by Sophia Grojsman and Bruno Jovanovic for IFF
The beginning is almost leathery, slightly dry, aromatic and violet-y - then fades into a note of grape-colored nail-polish. We smell a deep, dark, gray and fruity violet, more woody than sweet. Soon, a more orris-y impression follows which adds an elegant nuance to the perfume. This is a soft violet thanks to the peach note which adds a tender tonality.
The composition hovers between the colors purple and gray which confers it a sophisticated signature. It makes you realize that perfumers can play upon synesthesia and a range of rarer colors to convey a sense of distinction. This might be a violet perfume slightly influenced by the venerated Iris Gris by Fath. The drydown is creamy, woody, with a slight nuance of floated woods and a hint of abstract gourmandise. This composition is probably the one which comes across as the least casual and dressiest. It is also the most inscrutable of the four in terms of its apparent personality, which is a compliment in perfumery where mystery is an intangible yet certain quality.
We think that seeing great perfumers visibly lending their names and more importantly their expertise to the fragrance mass-market is an interesting experiment which is beneficial to all parties involved. The perfumers received a challenge, a responsibility to fulfill, marketed their names, and the customers can find seriously composed perfumes relying on centuries-old tradition at an incredible price point, less than $10 for the eaux de toilette and less than $7 for the body mists, thanks to the economy of scale.
The most V-Day-like perfume of the quatuor to our mind is Freesia + Violet Petals, if that's what you're looking for. From most simple to most complex on the perfume-personality scale, we'd say: Jasmine + Sparkling Mimosa, followed by Orange Blossom + White Musk, then Fresh Rose + Peach & finally Freesia + Violet Petals.