Friday, June 8, 2012

Overwhelm, destroying so sweetly...

A review of A Lab on Fire's What We Do In Paris Is Secret and a Drawing!

Snacks! (I'm like a horse, really.)
Dear reader:

So here's a little thing all ten of you out there should know about me. FN1. I have what could be considered a super human tolerance for sweet scents. Seriously. One of my favorites of all time? By Kilian's homage to the marshmallow, Love. Stuff that sets other people's teeth on edge - say Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot (which, let's be honest, most people think smells like an insane carnival snack) or Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille (boozy and tons of vanilla, but you need a serious sweet tooth to love) - sets my proverbial hair on fire. FN2. So when I tell you that I have found a scent so sweet it might actually be almost too sweet for me?

You should take that statement seriously.

You know that's right.
A Lab on Fire, according to nose in the know Robin at NST!, is a sub- or sister-brand of S-Perfume, makers of the much adored (by me) chocolate rose scent, 100% Love. FN3. So when I managed to get my grubby hands on a 15ml bottle of Dominique Ropion's creation, What We Do In Paris Is Secret, I was psyched! FN4. Would I love it? How much would I love it? Let me count the (imagined while it was still in the mail) ways!

Though it isn't much, here's what A Lab on Fire says about What We Do In Paris Is Secret:
Rue des Petits Champs ou rue Montorgueil. Place des Vosges ou St. Germain. Eau de Parfum What We Do In Paris Is Secret captures every part of the city. The glamorous as well as the edgy. Dominique Ropion, one of the most technically advanced perfumers in the world, has created a scent that shows his virtuosic skill and his ability to discover something new. The chic, au courant sensuality of What We Do In Paris Is Secret makes the magical real and Paris's secret palpable.

Notes - Top: Bergamot, honey, lychee; Mid: Turkish rose essence; Dry: tonka bean, vanilla, heliotrope, tolu, sandalwood, ambergris, musks.
Well kids, I'm here to let you in on the secret. In Paris, apparently the secret is sugar.

Oh holy crap, is it a lot of sugar! You know how sometimes a thing is so sweet it kind of sears your tongue and you get a twinge at the back of your jaw? This is the olfactory equivalent. I saw some reviews that got playdoh (I didn't) and a lot of almond (only a pinch over here.) Like Robin, I get a fleeting whiff of citrus and rose immediately, but it gets shoved aside almost instantly in favor of massive tonka and heliotrope. I know the notes say musk, but to me the base is more like a bowl of butter cream frosting mixed with the sweetest tobacco you could imagine. Some people say they get sweet floral, but I only get sweets and sweet smoke.

What We Do In Paris... will definitely be too sweet for ninety percent of the people who smell it. FN5. For example, my very own bestie, The Kate? She would run in the opposite direction. It's pretty much everything she hates in a perfume. FN6. My friend Amye, who likes to sniff scents then give them descriptions like "A beachy disaster - sunscreen and sand in your crotch!" or "It's as if a cosmo threw up all over you," would, I'm sure, have some choice words for this. FN7.

 Me? I'm all about the hearts and sparkles here, and in this case, the hearts are sugar cookies and the sparkles are made out of glittery crystallized sugar. While What We Do In Paris Is Secret is decidedly not for the perfumey faint of heart, I got good feedback on it from a girl a work today, and in a world of poseurs, this thing is the real gourmand deal.  I feel very lucky to have some, even if I am going to wear it sparingly for special occasions.  Honestly? It feels special occasion-y to me.  Like a very delicate, very fine, very expensive treat. If you ate it every day, you'd get a tummy ache, but every once in a while? Heaven.

Be forewarned: this sillage will run away from you (or make others run away from you), so give yourself a wide berth or go knowingly into the world cloaked in a confidence made out of candy glass armor. In terms of longevity, I put on the tiniest squirt this morning and twelve hours later I could still easily smell it, though it had lightened considerably. Definitely NSFW if you are in a fragrance limited/fragrance free environment. (Oops?)

You can buy What We Do In Paris Is Secret from Luckyscent in a 60ml for $110. They will also sell you a sample for $4.

But why wait? If you comment below, you can get a sample of What We Do In Paris Is Secret from yours truly, along with a few other of my current favs and a mix CD of music I'm listening to while writing. If you enjoy music from the Brill Building and the teeth gnashing and hair pulling of lost girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s, then between the super sweet scent and the super sweet music, you'll be all set.

Post here by 12:01 AM PST Wednesday, June 13, 2012 to enter. Open to anyone. I'll ship anywhere.

Want more? Try...
~ a review from Robin at NST!
~ a review from Smelly Thoughts.
~ a review from For The Love of Perfume.
~ a review from Legerdenez.
~ a review from 1000 Fragrances.

"Eyes, burning a way through me.
Overwhelm, destroying so sweetly.
Now, there is a fire within me.
A fire that burns...

This fire is out of control.
I'm going to burn this city,
burn this city..."
~ "This Fire," Franz Ferdinand
FN1. I kid, of course. There are clearly at least twelve of you.

FN2. Not literally. That would smell waaaaay different. Though I'm deep enough into perfume mania at this point to think, "But I bet there's a decent perfume to be had in there somewhere."

FN3. If I'd had 100% Love when I got married, I give it 70/30 odds it would have been my wedding scent.

FN4. Full disclosure - I won it in a draw on Now Smell This, because Robin is both wise and generous.

FN5. Okay, one minor complaint - could this name be any longer? It's like that band -- "...And you will know us by the fact that our name is ridiculous and longer than necessary."  They're just asking for a bad acyronym.

The perfumers, I mean.  The band already has one.

FN6. The Kate because in a world full of Kates, she is the Kate. The one, the only. Also/formerly known as cKate, until she usurped all other Kates, as was her due.

FN7. These are actual quotes from when we went a-sniffing one afternoon, because Amye is hilarious. And according to this Forbes piece, she's also too busy to date you, so no, you can't have her number.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... I get Green Olives from Spiritueuse Double Vanille and I haven't tried the other "Sweeties" you list, so I wonder if it would be "Sweeeeeet!" on me. I especially like the sound of the cd!

cheerio and have a good weekend, Anna in Edinburgh

Diana said...


I get a lot of green in Double Vanille as well, and a lot of alcohol, but I have friends who are like "Ugh, you smell overwhelmingly of bakery" and I like to be honest about how powerfully sweet What We Do in Paris... can read.

The CD set is pretty good. I keep bouncing back and forth between that, Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die," and a CD of French Pop I got from Starbucks.

Thanks for reading!


Doc Elly said...

I just tried Double Vanille the other day and got a lot of musk! It was sort of a fluffy, spun-sugar vanilla scent at first along with the green, boozy notes, but then it's a nice vanilla musk.

No need to enter me in the drawing, since I have a big sample of the fragrance in question, but thanks for doing it!

Hope the move is going smoothly.

Elisa said...

I'm in! Like you I rarely think things are just too sweet, but I do think sweet things are sometimes boring. SDV (which I am wearing today layered with Tabac Aurea, yum!) and DSH Mahjoun, for example, are both really sweet but also complex.

amyorvin said...

I'd like to win.Thank you!

Diana said...

Doc Elly--

I have weird experiences with musks. They wear strangely on me. I am hopeful I can find some I like. I like Ava Luxe Wild Blackberry Musk. I just need to find more now...


Diana said...


I will have to try the SVD/Tabac Aurea layering. Did they change the SVD bottle recently? The photos I keep finding are....not good.


Diana said...


You're in the draw! Thanks for playing.


Anonymous said...

I think I could take it. I mean, check out my name.

(Thanks for the draw!)


Ines said...

Honestly, I almost didn't read your review because of the long name. Whi gives those?!
But then I saw the mention of SDV and my attention was piqued (and I was in Paris very recently).

You know what this reminds me of instantly? The French macarons. They are quite sweet (almost to set your teeth on edge) and fit the description of the perfume exactly. :) So, I guess what we do in Paris is a sweet, guilty pleasure of eating macarons. ;)

Diana said...


Of your sweet tooth tolerance, I have no doubts. :)


Diana said...


I saw references to French macarons on review of What We Do In Paris... but I've never actually eaten one, so I have no baseline for comparison. You're probably right, though.

Glad you decided to stop in! :)


Das said...

Hi Diana, Thank you for hosting this draw. I just recently started following your blog. I live in Seattle and like connecting with PNW-ers who share the love of scent.

I was just thinking yesterday that I don't have any FB sweet perfumes in my collection. The ones I've sampled that struck me as super sweet are Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum and BK Love, so I'm interested in trying more sweeties. :)

Next time you're in Seattle, you can try a French macaroon at the best bakery in town that also happens to be in my neighborhood, Bakery Nouveau. Hmm, it may be a perfect day for that today!

monster said...

The name is absurd, but that's what I thought of Fiona Apple's "When the Pawn..." and I learned to love that album despite the obnoxious title.

Diana said...

Monster -

I love that album, too! So they are both wins, long names not withstanding.


Undina said...

From time to time I do find some perfumes too sweet but on many occasions when many reviewers were complaining that some perfume was too sweet I didn't smell that sweetness at all.

monster said...

I’ve been obsessed with Lana Del Rey lately, enough to burn a whole cd of her surprisingly high quality b-sides found on YouTube. She has at least two discs worth of material but I culled the best (I can burn a copy for you if you’re interested.) Starred ones are my favorites.

1. *Kinda Outta Luck
2. Queen of the Gas Station
3. *You Can Be the Boss
4. *Kill Kill
5. Lolita
6. *Driving in Cars with Boys (I like both the demo and final version)
7. Gramma
8. *Heavy Hitter
9. Raise Me Up (Mississippi South)
10. Jump
11. Smarty
12. Dum Dum
13. Children of the Bad Revolution
14. *Lucky Ones
15. *Paris
16. On Our Way
17. Without You
18. Yayo

I prefer to think of my appreciation of her music as less feminist abandonment and more embracing the narrative of the tragic trailer park character of "Lana" that Elizabeth Grant concocted; the femme fatale finally tells her backstory.

Diana said...


Happens to me all the time. I say if you like sweet, give it a try.


Diana said...


Yes, I'd love the b-sides. Gimme, gimme. And I don't think she's necessarily anti-feminist. I mean, sure there are elements of that, but "This Is What Makes Us Girls"? SEARING indictment of the way women (young women in particular) fall into gender tropes in order to attract men, and that sometimes the best love/support comes not from men, but our female friends. ALSO - so critical of societal attempts to control female behavior/sexuality.

That's when the beginning of the end begun,
Everybody knew that we had too much fun,
We were skipping school and drinking on the job with the boss.
Sweet sixteen and we had arrived.
Baby's table dancing at the local dive.
Cheering our names in the pink spot light,
drinking cherry schnapps in the velvet light.
Yeah, we used to go break in, to the hotel,
Glimmer and we'd swim.
Running from the cops in our black bikini tops
Screaming 'Get us whilst we're hot,
Get us whilst we're hot!"

This is what makes us girls:
We all look for heaven and we put our love first.
Something that we'd die for,
It's our curse.
Don't cry about him; don't cry about it

This is what makes us girls:
We don't stick together 'cause we put love first.
Don't cry about him; don't cry about it.
It's all gonna happen.

The prettiest in crowd that you had ever seen.
Ribbons in our hair and our eyes gleamed green.
A freshman generation of degenerate beauty queens

And you know something?

They were the only friends I ever had
We got into trouble and when stuff got bad
I got sent away.
I was waving on a train platform,
crying, cause I know I'm never coming back.

That's some pretty critical commentary. Personally, I love Born to Die, and I file it under "music with feminist aspects."


Charity/CC said...

This sounds great!


ccboobooy at gmail dot com