We're like the Odd Couple when it comes to fragrances: Holly opts for dark, spicy scents, such as Dior's Hypnotic Poison and Tom Ford Black Orchid. Michelle is a perfume junkie whose heart is divided between such rose-based florals as Stella by Stella McCartney and such woody “florientals” as Prada Tendre. In our search for the most intriguing new scents of the season, we sampled perfume-counter staples, boutique brands and luxe concoctions. Then we spritzed and splashed our way around the office for two weeks (much to the chagrin of our co-workers) to see how they held up against our favored fragrances. Lesson learned: We'll never be fighting over the last bottle on the shelf.
Holly E. Thomas and Michelle Thomas, Washington Post
Creed Love in Black
WHAT'S IN IT: Wildflowers, violet, cedar, iris, clove, Tonkin musk, black currant and Bulgarian rose.
HOLLY SAYS: Soap, soap and more soap — I swore I could even taste the bar of Ivory after a few sniffs. As the day wore on, the scent settled into something more akin to clean laundry, but it turns out I don't want to walk around smelling like a box of Bounce.
MICHELLE SAYS: Apparently, I like smelling like laundry more than I like doing it. Creed's spray is young and fresh, yet refined in an understated way. Fittingly, it was inspired by the patron saint of timeless elegance: Jackie O.
DETAILS: $130-$350 at Neiman Marcus stores and www.neimanmarcus.com.
Dolce & Gabbana L'Eau the One
WHAT'S IN IT: Bergamot, mandarin, litchi, peach, plum, lily of the valley, jasmine, Madonna lily, amber, musk, moss, vanilla and vetiver.
HOLLY SAYS: This was a surprise favorite, probably because I was tricked by spokesmodel Gisele Bundchen's tousled bed head into thinking it would smell too sexy for the average non-supermodel. Instead, D&G's spritz opened into spicy bergamot and rich vetiver notes, which made it just sophisticated and sultry enough for wearing out at night.
MICHELLE SAYS: To my nose, the perfume's base note of vanilla was cloyingly sweet. It smells like the tiny lip-shaped vanilla mints I bought from Victoria's Secret in my high school years. Definitely not “The One” for me.
DETAILS: $60-$82 at Saks Fifth Avenue stores and www.saksfifthavenue.com.
Marc Jacobs Gardenia
WHAT'S IN IT: Gardenia, obviously. Possibly not much else.
HOLLY SAYS: The sweet, heady scent of gardenia has always been my weakness, probably because it evokes fond memories of a childhood in the South. Fans of more sophisticated scents will most likely balk at this splash's one-note song, but for a purist like myself, it's bliss in a bottle.
MICHELLE SAYS: I'm fairly ambivalent about the titular bloom, but I worried the pure note might be either overwhelming or (worse) boring. To my surprise, one spritz on each wrist left me loving this fragrance's light, uncomplicated charm.
DETAILS: About $68 at fine department stores and www.sephora.com.
Van Cleef & Arpels Feerie
WHAT'S IN IT: Violet, black currant, mandarin, Bulgarian rose, Egyptian jasmine, Florentine iris butter and vetiver.
HOLLY SAYS: The first whiff of this concoction brought to mind one thing: grape soda. I'm not a fan of drinking (much less smelling like) Fanta, so I was pleasantly surprised when the scent dried down to a more woody, vetiver-laced essence by the time I went to bed.
MICHELLE SAYS: The fairy (er, “feerie”) atop the faceted sapphire bottle is certainly striking. As is the scent — so striking, in fact, that I felt a little dizzy. I love floral-woody fragrances, but this one was too much even for me.
DETAILS: $110-$150 at Van Cleef & Arpels and Neiman Marcus stores.
WHAT'S IN IT: Saffron, Mai de Grasse rose absolute, Bulgarian rose essence, sambac jasmine, nagarmotha essence, vetiver and sandalwood.
HOLLY SAYS: Lancome chose Anne Hathaway as the face of its latest fragrance, and I can confidently say that Magnifique makes me think of a princess who most likely keeps a diary. By midday, I could smell only a powdery sweetness that overwhelmed any promise of jasmine or sandalwood.
MICHELLE SAYS: Full disclosure: Holly is not exactly a fan of Anne Hathaway. With saffron as its top note, I half-expected this one to make me crave Indian food. Instead, I got a spicy, woody essence that made me want to slip on a black cashmere sweater, sit in a coffee shop and try to seem mysterious. Perhaps it's the sandalwood?
DETAILS: $65-$85 at department stores and www.lancome-usa.com.