Perfumes that hit the right note

By Janetta Mackay

The Herald's music journalists turn their critical noses to the latest celebrity scents.

Taylor Swift has launched her own fragrance called Wonderstruck, a wholesome fairytale scent reminiscent of her song, Love Story. Photo / Supplied
Taylor Swift has launched her own fragrance called Wonderstruck, a wholesome fairytale scent reminiscent of her song, Love Story. Photo / Supplied

Celebrity fragrances are all about good timing - Kim Kardashian surely missed her moment in failing to rush out a wedding scent before she filed for divorce, but other celebs are right on song for the Christmas season. Viva asked Scott Kara and Lydia Jenkin of the Herald's TimeOut section to widen their reviewing duties by sniffing out how well some new star fragrances best match their namesake's musical image. Strike the right chord and they'll be earning royalties for years.

Celebrity fragrances cop a fair amount of sneering, pitched as they are at the young and impressionable, but as the entry point into buying fragrance for many young women and men they are a good indicator of prevailing preference. The availability of smaller bottles and the likes of 10ml rollerballs means prices can start as low as $30. The scents themselves are often well crafted, but almost invariably sweet and anything but subtle. For the reality TV generation, pop culture stars are expected to be OTT so no surprise, then, that so are their chosen fragrances and packaging.

Strong sellers at Farmers are Katy Perry and Beyonce, both nearly a year on from launch, with Beyonce's latest fragrance, Pulse, yet to factor in. Rihanna's newest offering is likely to make waves or, if she's not to your taste, Taylor Swift has stepped up to join the old troopers like Mariah and Britney. For men, Jay-Z's Rocawear is the favourite followed by Usher.

1. Rocawear Evolution 50ml eau de toilette $99

If this were a song it would be Big Pimpin' because this latest release from the fragrance arm of Jay-Z's vast hip-hop empire is rich and spicy but with a lovely soulful and saucy finish, giving it a strong, alluring feel. This will infuse you with the sort of swagger and charm of a powerful music mogul. Well, maybe. And lads, if Jay-Z likes it then Beyonce must like it, too, which ain't a bad thing.

- SK

2. Beyonce Pulse 50ml eau de parfum $92

If this were a song it would be Run the World, and particularly suited to women who want to do just that. Looking like a luminous blue rocket ship or futuristic flower, this fragrance package presents a similar feel to a Beyonce stage show: cosmic rays, flashing lights, prisms, holograms, drama and power. It's a strong scent that's not especially feminine, heavy on the orange citrus notes, with light touches of vanilla and jasmine, and there's supposedly a drop of Beyonce's favourite flower - orchid - in there too. Individual but not as dazzling as Beyonce herself.

- LJ

3. Taylor Swift Wonderstruck 100ml eau de parfum $149

If this were a song it would be Love Story - you too can be a wonder-struck summery princess with this wholesome fairytale fragrance. With a sparkly purple bottle decorated with gold charms, there's a touch of the magical about this scent, which has some solid floral notes of honeysuckle and white hibiscus, a touch of vanilla, and just a hint of the tropical with golden amber and peach.

- LJ

4. Mariah Carey Lollipop Splash The Remix 30ml eau de parfum $79

If this Remix fragrance trio were a song, it would be All I Want For Christmas - a little cloying, but a good few minutes of fun, with a certain celebratory, childhood nostalgia. Choose from Never Forget You, Inseparable, and Vision of Love, each named for a Mariah song, but not especially reflective of her usual bold and dramatic style. What comes to mind is those retro childhood sweets, K-Bars. Each small fluorescent bottle with plastic butterflies on top has a different lolly smell: Inseparable is a raspberry/candyfloss cross, Never Forget You is orange sherbet with Fanta and Vision of Love is grape bubblegum, with hints of berry, cinnamon and plum.

- LJ

5. Rihanna Reb'l fleur 50ml eau de parfum $60

If this were a song it would be California King Bed - intoxicating in a way you imagine Rihanna would be in person, echoing that sultry, guilty-pleasure vibe she does so well. Somehow this fragrance manages to be both the least expensive and the best of the bunch, with an elegant retro bottle meant to look like a shoe heel. The scent is intimate, tender, and luxurious, with Hawaiian hibiscus, violet and tuberose blending with base notes of vanilla, amber, patchouli and musk.

- LJ

6. Sean Jean Unforgivable Electric 125ml eau de toilette $151

If this were a song it would be somewhere between P Diddy's (aka Sean Jean) I'll Be Missing You and Bad Boy For Life. You see, the rapper and entrepreneur's latest fragrance is a little lightweight, like a sweet and sentimental slow jam, but the blokes who will be drawn to this fresh, citrus scent will have more than a hint of bad boy in them.

-SK

* There's also a new female counterpart to Sean's Jean's earlier I Am King out, called ... Empress.

7. Britney Spears Cosmic Radiance 100ml eau de parfum 100ml $142

If this were a song it would be Baby Hit Me One More Time because, although it is supposedly inspired by Brit's new album Femme Fatale, the scent seems younger and less worldly than that. The bottle is a solid retro rectangular job, with echoes of pool tiles lending an 80s pool party vibe. With strong fruity, candy aromas of mandarin and lychee, along with girly floral notes of jasmine and gardenia with a splash of vanilla, it has a coy, slightly naughty scent, like teenage girls innocently getting into the peach schnapps.

- LJ

- NZ Herald

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