As a beauty junkie I am always gathering samples, which typically come with online purchases or when I’m interested in purchasing something from a department store. I outright refuse to subscribe to those sample boxes on principle; they’re meant to be free, for goodness sake! I thought it would be fun to share my first impressions on a week’s worth of samples and let you know whether or not I plan to purchase a full size of any of the products. For quick reference, WNR stands for Would Not Repurchase/Recommend and WR is Would Repurchase/Recommend.
- Robert Graham Fortitude ($125*): Full disclosure, I do currently represent this fragrance for work. If you’re not familiar, Robert Graham is an American designer that expanded into the fragrance business in 2016. This is one of three scents sold exclusively at Holt Renfrew here in Canada, and I’m not even biased when I say that the bottles are gorgeous. Seriously, click the link and check them out. Fortitude goes after the Tom Ford fans, those who like heavy, masculine scents. It is loaded with tobacco, patchouli, and tonka beans. They kind of create a very somber, sweet fragrance that reminds me of Mugler’s A*Men or Ford’s Tobacco Vanille. While well balanced and pleasant, it is too similar to other things I already have, so I don’t see myself purchasing a full size soon. WNR
- Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb ($115*): Spicebomb follows the bestselling Flowerbomb after a seven year gap, making me wonder if the L’Oreal owned brand fell out of touch with what the public really wanted after being blinded by success. This is predominantly a cleanly spicy composition without the regular citrus notes in the top, making it rather… bland. Like, if you squeezed all the fun out of YSL’s L’Homme. Sure, if you’re a spices fanatic you’ll likely enjoy the paprika, pink pepper, and cinnamon aspects. But to me it falls flat, like a one-trick pony. I don’t see myself wearing this, and if somebody else wore it near me I’d not likely be attracted to it. I will say that it does sort of make sense as a companion to Flowerbomb, which is also not a terribly exciting nor complex composition. As Meryl Streep sings in “Into the Woods:” You’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice. WNR
- Gucci Bamboo ($138*): I think it was pretty clear to anybody who follows fragrance news that when Gucci introduced this in 2015 that they were attempting to A) regain consumer interest after the success of the Guilty franchise and relatively quieter Flora line, and B) to capitalize on the Gucci bamboo bag, tying their accessories and fragrance worlds. The scent itself has mass appeal due to its light effervescence and feminine bottle, yet they limited their potential clientele by so prominently featuring the note of Casablanca lily, a soapy white floral. If you like strong jasmine scents, I think you would like this, too. For me the lily, coupled with sandalwood, is too much and would probably trigger headaches. WNR
- Mui Mui Mui Mui ($150*): Same disclaimer as above. This is Prada’s alter-ego brand, meant to be less serious and more fun. It has many parallels with Bamboo, starting with the flacon design borrowed from the house’s bags, and including the strong lily note. However, it contains an interesting note called Akigalawood, created by Givaudan, which gives it a bitter woodsiness. It makes me think of polished furniture, and I’m not sure I’m down for that. I still don’t see myself owning a bottle, but at least it is a conversation piece. WNR
- Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio Pour Homme ($115*): The one, the only, the classic. In 1996 Armani was inspired by a vacation in Pantelleria, and this is the resulting fragrance. Painfully aquatic, it plays on all the right notes; sunny citrus, salty ocean spray, white florals, and sheer musk. It’s really a nice summery fragrance, I could see myself wearing this out. Longevity seems to be a sensitive subject for this scent, some people say it lasts 7+ hours, and others claim it disappears immediately. Of course, it is difficult to judge from a sample, but for me it seems to fall into the ladder category. Then again, I just seem to have a tough time in general with white florals. For that reason I have to pass, but if it works on your skin, rock it! WNR
- Elizabeth & James Nirvana White ($138*): Same disclaimer applies. Elizabeth & James is a fashion brand by the Olsen twins, named after their sister and brother. The fragrance line by the same name was developed by Kendo, LMVH’s incubating umbrella, and bought by Butterfly Beauty. I own a rollerball of Black, a beautiful musky, deep violet and sandalwood juice that is thoroughly unisex and even slightly masculine. White is its lighter, airier, more feminine counterpart, and both come in a unique textured bottle with gold trims, inspired by antique jewelry. Main notes are musk and peony, which give it a springy freshness that is still very grounded on the skin. I love this for spring and summer, while Black is better suited for autumn and winter. I would definitely purchase both. WR
- Philosophy Amazing Grace ($60*): Same disclaimer applies. Philosophy’s fragrances are not quite as big in Canada as they are in the States, where Amazing Grace is reportedly the fifth best-seller in the whole country. It is named for the founder’s daughter, and carries with it a range of body care products. I think its attraction lies in its simplicity: clean, fresh musk with a hint of sweet floral notes. It can be described as freshly laundered clothes drying in a gentle breeze. What I like about Amazing Grace is that you don’t need to think about it, you know it will smell good without having to fit a particular mood. Excellent for workplaces that restrict fragrance usage due to its quiet nature. I have a full size of this, and could see myself repurchasing. WR
Have you tried any of these products? What have you been loving this season?
*Prices true at time of writing.
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