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I’m so maxed out on expensive.

Don’t get me wrong, I still want a bottle of Tihota – well, pretty badly, actually, and I can’t stop thinking about having a bottle of Clive Christian No. 1 all my very own to pet and hug and call George. But after my recent buying splurge, I am so maxed out on things that smell expensive and are expensive.

I had a great time at the Sunday holiday Sniffapalooza event, talking and sniffing and mixing, and the presenter, Sarah Barton-King of The Pink Room, was delightful to meet and has some delightful perfumes to sell. I had a hard time taking a company called “The Pink Room” seriously, but their new scent, “Darkly Audacious”, is indeed extremely feminine but has nothing frilly or Disney about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney (I would also like a Dooney Disney princess wristlet or tote or bucket bag, Santa, while we’re having this discussion) but I am not interested in useless decorative women, or in how useless decorative women would smell. Darkly Audacious is a beautiful composition, rich and lush without being sticky or heavy, and I will review it at some future time when the weather is doing it justice.

Because if you’re going to wear something like my precious Amouage Opus I (my precioussss), or Darkly Audacious, you want to enjoy every tiny iota of its existence. And frankly I haven’t been, because I can’t. Between my desert-dry skin and the winter air, everything I put on evaporates off of me and out of the air almost within a few minutes. Not what I like in my perfume. Not what I expect. And with something expensive, frankly, not worth the investment.

Maybe that’s why I’m feeling a little spent out. Maybe it’s because I just dropped $125 unplanned bucks on what looks like half an ounce and yes, it’s a glorious presentation box, but I’m buying it for myself and the box (and the atomizer) are just going to go under the bed, or into the “vault” box in my closet.

No more expensive alcohol-based perfumes. It’s the depth of winter, it’s the holidays, I need comfort and I need oil.

I’ve been wearing Ava Luxe’s Madeleine on the weekend (the original; she is calling the new one Madeline, and I have it but I don’t think it’s as good), and it’s THE perfect Christmas scent: boozy and buttery and comforting par excellence. But I don’t want all that foody goodness on a workday, and I want some rich flowers to wrap myself in. It’s a restorative from the weather, and from the holiday bananas-ness. (I was going to say stress, but I’m actually having a fairly stress-free holiday; it’s just, you know, there’s STUFF TO DO and you can’t really avoid it and it’s all time sensitive and. YOU KNOW.)

Ava Luxe is perfect for right now. I have many Ava Luxes; I could spend the rest of December going through them and not get bored. And the oil has a good staying power on me. They’re affordable and they’re gorgeous to smell.

But I can’t recommend them as a last-minute Christmas gift (for yourself or someone else) because the perfumer takes at least three weeks to turn any orders around – Ava Luxe is not an immediate gratification item. So let me recommend something else for the moment.

I believe I’ve reviewed Gigi before, though not on this website. lulubeauty on etsy can perhaps be forgiven for trumpeting throughout their site that Madonna has loved and bought Gigi. My understanding is that Madonna bought this perfume by the dozens as a party favor once – and I can see why. It’s a perfect perfume for Madonna – cheap enough to be populist, but actually beautiful, gutsy, bold, and kind of secretly arty and sweet. Don’t tell anyone; I don’t think Madonna wants anyone to know.

I recently discovered that a perfume I had bought (not too expensive, and on eBay, but it was an investment of time and energy) and loved was a very close match for a common department store perfume. I really don’t think you’re going to find any common perfumes that are a match for Gigi. Marc Jacobs is a common enough gardenia scent but it doesn’t have Gigi’s touch of something in the background – is it iris? butter? earth? that gives it a sort of sexy grounded smell and keeps the gardenia from ever being precious or sappy. Gigi is a smell that reminds one of 40s movie heroines. I can imagine a dame wearing this and smiling up through her eyelashes at you just before she hits you over the head with a statuette and knocks you out. lulubeauty actually has another gardenia fragrance called Dame, which I haven’t tried (I’m going to), which they say is smokier and darker. Personally, I like Gigi. It makes me want to be dressed in velvet.

Gigi comes in a perfectly portable small oil format, which is great for this weather. On my wrists and throat, it envelopes me in a happy little cloud of scent, and for $30, it’s a tremendous value. lulubeauty is also now making it in cute solids, and they also sell eau de parfum spritzers. Apparently the new solids were featured in the December Redbook magazine, so you may hear about lulubeauty more, but for now I think it still counts as a pretty special find, a great value for the money, a perfect scent (and line of products) for the winter, and a luxurious, attractively sensuous scent that you can wear anywhere at any time. This is where my head is at right now.

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