Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Get It Together, Serena is moving!

My beloved readers,
I was fortunate enough to get some excellent advice recently from a very successful perfume blogger. One of her suggestions was that I move from blogspot to wordpress. So as of today, Serena is packing up her emotional baggage and moving to The blog is now called "Scents of Self". To the very lovely women who have become followers, please keep reading! I would love to continue to hear from you. Although it is currently empty, I will be transferring the content over very soon and writing new posts in no time.
Once again, the link is:
Thank you for reading, everyone!

Sexy Times, Part 3: Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb

Queridos, the first two perfumes in this very sexy series have, for the most part, been on the darker end of the sexy spectrum. Today we will explore the lighter side of sexy, something I like to call "pink sexy". Pink sexy is not particularly sensual. It's more Barbie than Bardot. Where MV3 was a leather dress, a "pink sexy" perfume would be a Juicy Couture tracksuit. Pink sexy means Cher Horowitz in Clueless, Regina George in Mean Girls, Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On. The prettiest girls at your high school, the ones who straighten their blonde hair every morning and always frame their blindingly white smiles with the perfect pink lipgloss. They could steal your boyfriend with ease, if they even knew who you were. The prom queens, the sorority girls, the cheerleaders. Love them or hate them, you can't help but want to be like them.

Oh, '90s fashion.

Flowerbomb, created in 2004, exemplifies this perky, girly type of sexiness. Flowerbomb is a bit of a misnomer; "Sugarbomb" would have been more appropriate. Flowerbomb is sweet beyond belief and is very closely related to Aquolina Pink Sugar, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, and Philosophy Falling In Love. Now, I have repeatedly established myself as an enemy of Pink Sugar on this blog, and in general I do not find such sugary fare particularly sexy. However, I acknowledge that the reason that there are so very many overly sweet perfumes on the market today is because many women love them. Study after study has shown that men also prefer sweet smells, such as vanilla (they are also fond of bacon). I would be remiss if I did not include a perfume from the sugary genre, and Flowerbomb is probably the best of its kind.

One of the reasons that I hate Pink Sugar so much is that I actually had very high hopes for it. A perfume that smells like cotton candy? Who doesn't like cotton candy? But then Pink Sugar just smelled like licorice, and it broke my heart, and then she slept with like three of my bros, just don't even talk to me about her, man. Flowerbomb actually achieves the cotton candy effect that Pink Sugar promised but never delivered. The opening stage of Flowerbomb is juicy (bergamot) and sweet. It makes me imagine a room in Willy Wonka's factory, perhaps a cave made entirely of pink rock candy. After a few minutes I could smell something that my nose registered as strawberries. Since there are actually no fruits at all in Flowerbomb, I am forced to conclude that this is instead the lightest jasmine that I have ever smelled. Flowerbomb stumbles once the patchouli appears. Something about the combination of sugar and patchouli, a notoriously earthy note, seems rather off.

Flowerbomb bears a startling resemblance to Thierry Mugler's Angel; it could pass for Angel's shy little sister. Like Angel, Flowerbomb can be a little scary, reminiscent of how the Regina Georges of the world are often feared as much as they are loved. Pink sexy can and often does deteriorate into "bitchy sexy". At its best, however, Flowerbomb is pleasant, flirty fun.

When Regina George makes this face, you RUN AWAY.

Disclaimer: I begged for a sample of Flowerbomb from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sexy Times, Part 2: M.A.C MV3

The other day we talked about Angelina Jolie, who was widely considered to be the hottest woman on the planet until the recent appearance of version 2.0, the younger, graceless Megan Fox. Although I had pegged Angelina as a Prada woman, she actually wears a men's cologne, Bvlgari Black. Black was created by perfumer Annick Menardo, who is also responsible for the very popular Lolita Lempicka and Christian Dior Hypnotic Poision, and released in 1998. Since its inception Black has been the darling of perfume lovers and critics, who rejoiced at being able to find such an unusual perfume at a mainstream price.

Black is supposedly a smoky vanilla scent, with the smokiness coming from a lapsang souchong tea note. The reality is that Black smells like straight-up burnt rubber. Now, rubber may have sexy connotations galore to the BDSM crowd, but I personally find it disorienting and unenjoyable. Black is edgy, I'll give it that, and a good match for Angelina, who famously used to wear a vial of her ex-husband's blood as a necklace.

You guys, I know that we're supposed to think that Angelina is like a much more bangable Mother Teresa or something to that extent, but does anyone else remember that she used to be really, really weird? I mean, remember how she made out with her brother on the red carpet, and took pictures with horses that were Equus-levels of inappropriate, and slept with a knife under her pillow, and just generally seemed very troubled? I will include the most family-friendly of those horse pictures here to illustrate my point.

Yes, this really and truly was the most family-friendly of the horse pictures.

I will be honest here: I do not particularly care for Angelina Jolie. I would never try to deny her incredible beauty or her equally impressive charity work, but I also have not forgotten that she had an affair with a married man. I also hated her in "A Mighty Heart". I actually feel fairly strongly about this. "A Mighty Heart" was about the Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by Pakistani terrorists in 2002. That movie had a damn important story to tell, and that story was lost amidst Jolie's overdramatic attempt at serious acting. Additionally, "Beowulf" was nothing short of the worst movie of all time. I think what I'm trying to say here is that Angie should probably stick to "Tomb Raider", and try to be a little bit less of a homewrecker.

Cut it out, Angie!

So we were talking about Black, and how it is very interesting but (in my personal, very unpopular opinion) has no place on a list of sexy perfumes. However, Black is closely related to a perfume that is the very definition of "Sexy Times": MV3 by M.A.C. MV3 was created in 2002 by perfumer Cecile Krakower, whose otherwise scanty resume includes "Paris Hilton Fairy Dust." Like Black, MV3 is a smoky vanilla. There are two key differences between the two. First, where Black evokes smokestacks belching out black clouds, MV3 contains a mere breath of smoke. Second, instead of Black's bizarre rubber note, MV3 has dark, creamy leather. Despite a prominent vanilla note, MV3 is worlds away from Pink Sugar and its ilk. It starts off sweet and smoky and dries down to a rather sharp, unsweetened leather. At no point is MV3 particularly friendly or comforting. The green dagger that is the vetiver topnote gives MV3 unsmoothable edges and a dangerous glint in its eyes.

MV3 reminds me of the Barry Levinson movie "Liberty Heights". Adrien Brody falls in love with an exquisite girl (played by the still-fabulous model Carolyn Murphy), only to discover that she is absolutely psychotic. Her character is compared to a thoroughbred horse: beautiful, but very high-strung. MV3 smells like a stunning woman (blonde hair, pale, creamy skin) wearing a tight-fitting leather jacket. She's sitting alone at a bar, smoking a cigarette. You might wonder how such a gorgeous creature could possibly be alone. If you were to approach her, you would probably discover that there is a very good reason for her solitude.

Carolyn Murphy in Liberty Heights. Can't you just feel the crazy?

Disclaimer: I have sampled Black at Sephora and MV3 at Nordstrom.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sexy Times, Part 1: Prada Eau de Parfum

Queridos, I have an unfortunate and debilitating condition. I will tell you about it if you promise not to laugh. My driver's license says that I am 4'11". The reality is even a smidgen shorter. My height prevents me from competing on my favorite TV show of all time, America's Next Top Model (the minimum height requirement is 5'7"). It prevents me from seeing over the steering wheel when I drive (mostly kidding, but you actually should really try to avoid driving behind me).

When you're 4'11", the whole world is a "You must be this tall to ride" sign.

Most of all, my midgetdom places me firmly in the "cute" category. This issue is compounded by the fact that I also look a good three or four years younger than my age (18). Words like "sexy" or "seductive" will never, ever be used to describe me. Do not pass "hot", do not collect $2,000. I try to compensate for this aspect of being vertically challenged by wearing perfumes with blatantly obvious, impossible-to-miss sex appeal. I need my perfume to say, "It's okay to be attracted to me! I am above the legal age of consent in all 50 states!"

You may be surprised, but "sexy" perfumes are actually becoming increasingly rare in today's perfume market. The 1980's were all about strong, powerful perfumes. They had presence and sex appeal to spare, but they were also so overwhelming that many were banned in workplaces, restaurants and other public places. Opium. Obsession. Giorgio. The 1990's saw a backlash against these types of perfumes. Women wanted perfumes that smelled fresh, clean, and above all soft. The unisex, citrusy CK One is an enduring example of this genre. Today, in 2010, the "clean" trend remains dominant (although it has some competition from the "overly sweet" trend exemplified by Pink Sugar). The exceedingly airy Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue has been a topseller for 8 years. Unfortunately, too often "clean" becomes "nondescript". These perfumes certainly have less potential to be offensive than those monsters of the '80s, but they also have a great deal less personality.

For the next few blog posts, I plan to focus on the few contemporary sexy scents that have survived despite the public demand for something fresher and lighter. My personal favorite in this category is a perfume that never got the memo that the '80s are over: Prada. Prada was created in 2004 by Carlos Benaim and Max Gavary. Like Thierry Mugler's Angel, Prada features a very prominent patchouli note. Unlike Angel, however, Prada actually smells good. The patchouli combines with labdanum (a woody, ambery scent) and benzoin (a note that smells like powdery vanilla) to create an utterly intoxicating perfume. It smells delicious, without crossing the line into edible or over-sugared. Prada seems darker and more complex than it actually is (it's essentially a woody vanilla), forever hinting at new layers that are about to be unveiled.

Prada's sex appeal is not of the coy, flirtatious Marilyn Monroe variety. As evidenced by the knowing gaze of model Daria Werbowy in the ad, Prada knows exactly what it's doing. It's more of a seductress than a flirt, more vampy than wholesome. Prada smirks more than it smiles. If Prada were a person, it would doubtless be Angelina Jolie. Prada and Ms. Jolie are two unconventional beauties who share a hypnotic, slightly dangerous quality. Maybe you've been wearing your favorite perfume for years, but Prada will tempt you away faster than you can say "Mr. and Mrs. Smith". By the vanilla-heavy drydown, Prada becomes soft and comforting, reminiscent of Angelina's transition from bad-girl to her current Mother Earth phase.

Disclosure: I own a ginormous bottle of Prada because I never want to be without it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Beyonce Heat

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am in a long-standing, committed relationship with Beyonce Knowles. I am probably one of three people on the planet (me, my best friend J, and I am generously assuming that there is at least one other person) who owns "Austin Powers 3: Goldmember", in which Beyonce played "Foxxy Cleopatra". That movie actually came out on my birthday, because Beyonce is very thoughtful that way. Also, I love that she appears to be wearing Princess Leah's gold bikini for the duration of the movie.

I'm Foxxy Cleopatra, and I'm a whoooole lot of woman!

How do I love thee, B? The woman is insanely beautiful, and even more insanely talented. No contemporary singer can touch Beyonce vocally. Me, J and Michelle Obama (we went in separate cars, but still) went to a Beyonce concert this summer, and I have honestly never heard such a beautiful voice in my life. Her acting skills have also come a long way since Goldmember. People seem to have mixed views on "Dreamgirls"; I think that she was incredible. Beyonce is currently aspiring to add "perfumer" to her very long list of talents, with her new perfume "Heat". I picked up a sample at Macy's, and I have a few thoughts, the first being "I do not want to be packing this particular Heat" and the second "Keep your day job, honey."

First off, the ad is laughably bad. The catchphrase, "Catch the Fever", makes it sound like some sort of STD or possibly swine flu. Also, it is beyond me how they were able to make such a gorgeous woman look so freaking terrible. I think it may have something to do with that satin... thing she's wearing. Beyonce, please tell me this is not what you meant by your "Freakum Dress". Get this girl some Armani couture!

See? Much better!

"Heat" is a yawn-inducingly generic combination of very sweet fruity notes (in this case, peach) with an amber-lite drydown. It is very reminiscent of the limited-edition fragrances that Escada puts out each year (Rockin' Rio, Pacific Paradise, etc.). Heat is in no way unpleasant, but it is far from worthy of the Queen B. Heat is more of a Ciara than a Beyonce (Ciara being a similarly gorgeous R&B singer with a far weaker voice). I think it's telling that Beyonce has often told interviewers, "I don't wear perfume." B, you know I'm very committed to our relationship, but I must tell you that perhaps someone who doesn't wear perfume should not be designing it. Quite frankly, no perfume might be better than this.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quick Post

I have longer, more exciting things that I plan to post tomorrow, but I just wanted to mention that I actually did smell the new Kim Kardashian perfume. It smells like honeysuckle and was very pleasant. Buy "Wild Honeysuckle" from Bath and Body Works for $5 instead.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Golden Globes Beauty/Why Kate Hudson Needs To Stop

In my heart, I have always believed that the Golden Globes are completely superfluous. I mean, we already have the Oscars, you know? But I will not let my personal beliefs stand in the way of reviewing the looks from last night, dear readers. I would never do that to you.

First up is Christina Aguilera. Now, I do feel that the liner on her lower lashline is too thick. But OH MY GOD is this a massive improvement. Y'all, remember the Stripped days? Some of Christina's best music ("Beautiful", "Dirrty") was on the Stripped album, but she was also going through that really weird phase where she talked a lot about how she had been abused by her father, and it was really clear that underneath her insanely over-the-top sexuality were some pretty intense daddy issues, and that was sort of uncomfortable for everyone involved. Also, she dressed like she worked at a strip club that was located in a dumpster.
The skankiness of Stripped-era Christina was such that Snooki, the impossibly trashy-yet-delightful midget from Jersey Shore, is often compared to her.
So while her makeup may not have been perfect at the Globes, I think that we can all agree that Christina is Most Improved 2010.

Next is Lindsay Lohan. I am not ashamed to admit my feelings for Lohan. I have loved her ever since Parent Trap. I loved her in that movie where Tyra Banks was a Barbie doll. When everyone said that she was a cokehead, I supported her. When she decided she was kind-of-but-not-really a lesbian, I supported her. Lindsay has rewarded my unflagging support by dying her gorgeous red hair a horrific shade of blonde, refusing to appear in an actual good movie, and generally acting a fool. It's common knowledge that Marilyn Monroe is Lindsay's biggest role model, but I think that she emulates Marilyn for the wrong reasons (the drama, the drugs). That being said, it is very nice to see her out and about A) wearing a dress that fully covers her breasts, B) seemingly drug-free, C) smiling! and D) actually looking quite cute. Now just dye your hair back and we're in business.

Halle Berry looks like her usual fabulous self. The woman simply does not age. Her eye makeup is a bit dark for my tastes.

Actress and comedian Mo'nique. Disclaimer: I have not seen Precious, only the trailers. I have heard it is incredible and am dying to see it. Anyway, Mo'nique's makeup is a good example of how lovely neutral colors can look on black women.

Amy Poehler is my very favorite female comedian. I even like her better than I like Tina Fey, which is a lot. She looks just beautiful, but the pink lips are all wrong for a red dress. Learn from her mistake, queridos.

Jennifer Aniston, you are aging supremely well. No one can argue with your makeup, which is a textbook example of how navy eyeliner can look really lovely with blue eyes. I do, however, take issue with your hair. It is messy. I understand that you have been unemployed ever since Friends ended, and that might be kind of depressing, but you are still richer than I will ever be so cheer up and brush your damn hair.

Zoe Saldana here played Uhura in the new Star Trek movie, which I have seen no less than 6 times because it is fantastic. My one complaint is that in this new version, Uhura is all into Spock, which is ridiculous because everyone knows that she confessed her feelings for Scotty in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. I have no such complaints about Zoe's makeup. She looks stunning, and I love those soft waves.

Calista Flockhart, Han Solo/Indiana Jones is holding your umbrella. He also appears to have his ear pierced, which is nothing short of awesome. Would it kill you to smile? I also think that you could have benefitted from some lipstick.

Every awards show, without fail, Heidi Klum wears an eyeshadow color that I think is too light and frosty for her skin tone. This time it's not as bad as years past, and besides, she always looks so happy and smiley, unlike someone we know (AHEM, Calista Flockhart).

Okay, Kate Hudson. Your makeup is essentially fine, although your lipstick is too frosty and your forehead is a shade too orange. Your hair is also a bit brassy. HOWEVER. Your attitude is hideous. Your overly smug facial expression in this picture is what is commonly referred to as "bitchface". It is all too obvious that you think that you're the hottest thing in town. I have news for you, Kate Hudson. You are a cute girl, but you are a mediocre actress and there is no way in hell that you would be in any way famous if your mother wasn't Goldie Hawn. You were by far the weakest link in the movie Nine. When Fergie, who isn't even an actress, shows you up, it is probably time to go home.

Speaking of Fergie-Ferg, I can no longer hold my silence. Fergie looked very, very pretty last night. I never noticed how blue her eyes are; the gorgeous color of her dress really made them pop. But did she look happy? Far from it. Homegirl looked MISERABLE, not to mention way too skinny. Also, please observe this picture of her and her cheating scumbag of a husband.
I'm sorry, but if that's not a fake smile I don't know what is. You are better than this, Fergie. You are famous for such musical masterpieces as "Where Is The Love", "Boom Boom Pow", "Let's Get It Started", "Pump It", "My Humps", and of course, "Fergalicious". It actually blows my mind how many hits you have had. He is famous for "Win a Date with Todd Hamilton!" LEAVE HIS SORRY ASS.

You're so right, Nicole Kidman. We should ALL be saluting, because your return to red hair is the best news I've heard in a long time. It looks absolutely stunning and so much more natural than that icky blonde. Can you please adopt Lindsay Lohan? I think you would be a great influence on her. Wouldn't that be great, you guys? Nicole would gently but firmly push Lindsay to hone her acting craft, and she would finally live up to the potential that we always knew she had, and maybe in a few years she could star in Moulin Rouge 2: Christian and Satine Totally Had A Love Child or something along those lines. Also, I love the color of your dress.

In my opinion, Marion Cotillard had the most daring makeup of the night. It's always a risk to focus more on the bottom lashline than the top. That soft blue eyeshadow is a very pretty color. Do I think that she would have looked even better if the top line had been equally thick? Yes, I do. But I cannot deny that she looks stunning and I applaud her for consistently taking risks in her makeup and fashion choices (although her fashion risk tonight was not quite as successful).

Again, I did not see Precious. But I have read several interviews of its star, Gabourey Sidibe, and I am astounded by her self-assurance and maturity. I was particularly delighted by this quote: "People trip over themselves to tell me I'm beautiful. It's cute. It's cute, but I'm not buying it. I'm beautiful now because you can buy a ticket to see me on a screen? I was beautiful before."* PREACH, Gabourey. She is indeed beautiful, which is why I was so frustrated when I saw this picture of her. In no way does this dress do her justice. It reminds me of a Project Runway challenge where the designers had to dress ordinary women, and the whining was ENDLESS. Designers, if you don't know how to design well for women over size zero, you are probably not a very good designer.

Julianne Moore, I love it when you wear emeralds. Maybe some lipstick next time?

I'm gonna go ahead and say it: Olivia Wilde had the best makeup of the night. She looks incredibly sexy without a hint of sleaze. Fantastic eyeliner, great choice of lipcolor. Now if only I knew who she was.

Finally, I have compiled the pictures of all of the celebrities (Mariah Carey, Penelope Cruz, Leona Lewis) who might have looked fine if they hadn't tanned themselves to a color that I believe Crayola calls "burnt sienna". Queridos, I appreciate that these women are fake-tanning rather than actually tanning. Sun damage is the single greatest cause of damage to skin. I wear sunscreen every single day and I encourage all of you to do the same. But until fake-tanning technology has developed to the extent that the orange color is no longer an issue, just say no, queridos.
* Gabourey Sidibe quote is from
All photos are from