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Bombay Duck London

SJP NYC (Sarah Jessica Parker)

Famously, Sarah Jessica Parker has extremely good taste in shoes.  And if her bestselling signature fragrances are anything to go by, she has better taste in perfume than most of her fellow celebrities, too.  Lovely has gone on to become a global blockbuster, and Covet did OK, too – basically ultra-pretty, easy-to-wear, pretty sophisticated.  (The scent equivalent of a pair of Manolos.) And here’s the third – only this time created to conjure up Sarah Jessica Parker’s Sex and the City character, Carrie Bradshaw, rather than as an expression of SJP’s own persona.  (Hence the multi-coloured plastic – and refillable – flacon which is as quirky as the Patricia Field outfits she became known for in SATC. A good design for protecting the ‘juice’, by the way.)

Cannily, it was timed to come out to coincide with the new movie – which, in the light of the fact the film’s had some pretty mixed reviews, may turn out to be something of a risk.  Like so very, very many of this year’s harvest of fragrance launches, this opens with fruit notes – punnet-fuls of strawberry, in this case.  Not strawberry in a Body Shop sort of a way, more a strawberries-at-Wimbledon elegance.  (But it really does smell of strawberry, as an 8-year-old who came within wafting distance could instantly make out.) The citrus notes whizz frustratingly by me like a New York cab during rush hour with its light off, and I get:  tangy, fresh and green.  (But not at all icky.)  For me, there are echoes of Marc Jacobs’s Daisy, another blockbuster Coty creation.  Coincidence…?

Then the florals sashay in:  a knock-’em-dead hit of exotic gardenia, mostly, with honeysuckle twining through it, and a soft wash of mimosa.  There’s a very sheer  rose note, ever-so-slightly reminscent of Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose, and at this stage it’s sheer and flirty as a net skirt.  It started me wondering:  now, what would the other three SATC ‘girls’ wear…?  I’d put my money on Samantha being a Shalimar temptress, Charlotte dabbing Calvin Klein Eternity discreetly behind her ears, and Miranda being too frazzled ever to remember to wear scent at all, so she probably smells of Dove soap.  (In case you’re wondering, I was late to SATC and only caught the last series plus the first movie, and am now hanging on till SATC 2 goes to DVD, which by all accounts won’t be long.)

On me, the strawberry lingers.  And lingers.  And is still there hours later when I’m expecting the promised musk, sandalwood and rum to kick in,  but they don’t.  I feel like Carrie, stood up by her girlfriend, left to enjoy a vanilla milkshake (I certainly get plenty of vanilla) when actually, I was ready for a cocktail and some filthy gossip.  But there you go.  Without those base notes, it smells very young on me.  And sure enough teenagers, I have discovered, can’t get enough of it – as evidenced by the miasma hovering on the first floor of this house – and are crazy about the bottle, which is very much a love-it-or-hate-it thing.  (If you wear a lot of leopard print, or zebra, this could be right up your street.  Personally, I rather like it – reminds me of a Nikki de Saint Phalle sculpture, though those aren’t everyone’s cup of skinny latte, either.)

So:  SJP NYC is not magnificent – but it’s a piece of frothy, girly fun.  Which makes it very appropriate for a fragrance created to conjure up SATC.  (The only conundrum?  Why not a ‘Big Apple’ note instead of strawberry, or has DKNY Be Delicious carved out the Granny Smith territory all for itself…?)  For sure, The Scent Critic has sniffed her way through some celebrity stinkers, in her time, and this isn’t one of them.  What SJP’s fragrances all tell me is that here is someone who knows what she likes, and is enough of a control freak not to let a fragrance bearing her name – or in this case, her initials – to be launched, if it’s going to make us love her any less.

So it’s fine.  For a fling, but probably not a marriage.  At the end of the day, I’m left with the overwhelming impression that if this fragrance was a pair of shoes, they’d probably be worn adoringly to death for a season and then discarded – rather than wrapped in tissue paper, stowed in a walk-in closet and cherished for a lifetime.  But we’ve all had shoes like that, and fragrances.  And in 2010 isn’t that what a ‘fragrance wardrobe’ is really all about…?

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