Déjà vu, Episode 3: powdery fruit vs. peony oriental vs. sandalwood jasmine

When I was a child there was a sketch comedy TV show for kids – Yeralash. One of the episodes was titled Twins (it’s shorter than 2 minutes – start at 4:00 –  you can watch it for the idea, I didn’t find it with subtitles).

The plot: Two little boys (LBs) on a sled bump into an older boy (OB). He gets up to confront them when he notices that they look alike.

OB: Identical twins!
LBs (here and later they speak in unison): We are not identical twins!
OB: What do you mean “not twins”? Are you brothers?
LBs: Yes!
OB: Then you’re identical twins!
LBs: No, we told you, we are not identical twins!
OB:  Were you born the same day?
LBs: Yes!
OB: Then you are identical twins!
LBs: No, we are not!
OB: Why are you messing with me?! Let’s do it again. Were you born the same day? Are you brothers? Are you look-alike?
LBs: Yes! Yes! Yes!
OB: Then you are twins!
(the third little boy who looks exactly as the first two comes from behind and pushes OB away): Leave them alone! We are identical triplets!!! I went to pee!


A year ago in one of the department stores I came across a stand with six or seven classic Guerlein fragrances. It was my first close encounter with those perfumes and since the only one I tried before – Shalimar – didn’t work for me I was reluctant to put anything on my skin. So I spent some time with all those bottles and paper strips. Have you ever tried keeping six unsigned blotters in order? I thought I was doing fine… Later, as I was going through those blotters in the car, the scent from one of them suddenly felt very familiar. A couple of minutes of intense sniffing later I conjured the answer: Estee Lauder’s Tuscany per Donna! The problem was that I didn’t know which perfume it was: blotters mixed in my hands and names did the same in my head.

I came home and went through the notes lists for those perfumes I suspected might be “it” – Mitsouko, Jicky, Jardins de Bagatelle and L’Heure Bleue. Each one of them had a potential but I couldn’t tell which one it was just from comparing notes. So the next week I went back to the store and sprayed those perfumes on new blotters (signed this time to avoid confusion). Nothing. None of them smelled like Tuscany per Donna. Since all that happen soon after I published the first episode in my o Déjà vu category I concluded that it was a wishful thinking on my part and thus wrapped up my experiments.


During my Guerlain Quest in Las Vegas this February, following Suzanne’s recommendation, I tested Samsara in parfum concentration. I smelled it from a blotter that an SA handed to me and immediately thought of another perfume Samsara reminded me of. Actually, I thought of another two perfumes. But remembering reaction of the Specialist (I won’t repeat the link but you might want to look through the story from the Episode 1 linked above to understand what I’m referring to); I chose the “more niche” of two to mention to that SA. I told him that Samsara reminded me of Frederic Malle’s Iris Poudre. And that was where it was “déjà vu all over again”: his reaction was really similar to the one I got from Malle’s Specialist. I thought it was ironic.


A month ago at a grocery store I thought I recognized a scent on a woman. I’m never shy to approach people about perfumes (or shoes) they are wearing:

 – Are you wearing Tuscany per Donna? – I asked.
 – No, it’s Samsara – she answered.

The circle has closed.


Since this post is a follow-up to my older story I decided against a full-blown blind testing (which was, in my opinion, a complete success in my second Déjà vu episode) but I had a chance to solicit a quick blind sniffing participation from Susan (Fine Fragrants):

Based on my first tries of each of these perfumes, I agree that they are similar. Yet I can readily identify differences between each of them. Red (Iris Poudre) smells more “modern” to me than Blue (Tuscany per Donna) or Yellow (Samsara) – more like something that would be coming out on the market now. Yellow is quieter and closer to the skin than Red or Blue. Blue is the most assertive, classic, and sexiest, as well as the most animalic – it’s the one I’d want if I had to buy one of these perfumes. It’s the diva of the trio.


Recently I tested all three perfumes – Tuscany per Donna, Iris Poudre and Samsara (both parfum and EdT) several times. Having five notes in common for all three (rose, carnation, jasmine, sandalwood and vanilla) and additional 2-3 between the most note-rich Iris Poudre and each of the other two, these three perfumes are distinct. I can definitely tell apart my favorite Iris Poudre: after more than a year of wearing it repeatedly I do not think any more that it’s identical to Tuscany per Donna. Testing Samsara and Tuscanny per Donna in parallel I can smell the difference. But all three have so much in common, especially on some stages of the development, that I’m not sure I won’t mix them up next time “in the wild” (©Dee, I think). Tuscany per Donna, Iris Poudre and Samsara  are not identical triplets but definitely fraternal ones.

By the way, Tania Sanchez gave this “sandalwood jasmine” ****

Read Suzanne’s (Eiderdown Press) real (and very beautiful) review of Samsara and Iris Poudre; Victoria’s (Bois de Jasmine) very informative article on new and vintage Samsara; Elisa’s not a review but an interesting layering idea for Tuscany per Donna and (thanks to Suzanne’s comment) Meg’s (parfumieren) review of Tuscuny per Donna.

Image: my own.

Déjà vu, Episode 1: powdery fruit vs. peony oriental


“Someone jolted my elbow as I drank and said, ‘Je vous demande pardon,’ and as I moved to give him space he turned and stared at me and I at him, and I realized, with a strange sense of shock and fear and nausea all combined, that his face and voice were known to me too well.
I was looking at myself.”
Daphne du Maurier, The Scapegoat


I find it amusing when I come across a perfume that reminds me of another one that I know. I’m talking not about a vague resemblance, a couple of common notes or a recognizable designer’s accord, but the situation when two completely unrelated fragrances smell so similar that I would have had a hard time telling them apart were they not compared side by side.

There is no practical use for these discoveries. But even though I remind myself of Joey from the Friends episode in Las Vegas where he gets excited about finding his “identical hand twin”, I can’t help discussing these resemblances with friends, colleagues and other unsuspected victims. So probably having an outlet in my blog for this weakness of mine is the lesser of evils.

Iris Poudre & Tuscany per Donna starring in TWINSDuring a very successful Christmas shopping and perfume counters scouting last December my girlfriends and I found ourselves on a desolate floor of Barney’s. Two guys in the fragrance department were very helpful and attentive. Too attentive. I really dislike when sales associates hover over you watching your every move. I don’t know if it works on anybody but on me it doesn’t. I cannot be bullied into buying anything before I’m ready. Even with two of them faithfully trying to catch my eye after each sniff. By the time we moved onto Frederic Malle’s section they’d probably realized that as well as the fact that they were outnumbered (there were three of us). So they proudly announced that we were in luck because there just happened to be a FM’s Specialist in the house. She appeared and under her watchful eye we tried several perfumes but there were too many words, too many bottles and too much pressure so I decided that it was worth paying money for samples online. But the last one I tried suddenly attracted my attention. “I like this one” – I told to my friends handing over a blotter. “Of course you like it!” – immediately responded one of them, – “It smells like Tuscany per Donna which you also like”. And she was right: it did strongly resembled TPD as I remembered it. I was so thrilled by that discovery that I just had to share it with the Specialist. You could tell how indignant she felt about my comparison of the Pierre Bourdon’s masterpiece to some perfume she didn’t even recognize (mentioning Estee Lauder didn’t help). Either she was eager to prove me wrong or just wanted to stop the torture but she agreed to make me a sample of Iris Poudre – so that I could compare it at home to that other perfume.

I did. On more than one occasion. Since then I’ve bought 10 ml travel spray of Iris Poudre – because I like the perfume and because I wanted to compare a spray to a spray. I still think that during many stages of their development on my skin they smell a lot alike. I know that official notes listings do not mean much but for what it’s worth, out of eleven notes listed for the Lauder’s perfume only three are not present in Malle’s one (honeysuckle, Mediterranean herbs and peony), seven notes are identical (amber, carnation, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, sandalwood and vanilla) and one note is in question (not specified citrus in TPD versus bergamot and orange in IP). Iris Poudre has extra ten notes listed. These two are not identical and have stages when I like one of them better than the other. But as far as my olfactory abilities go Tuscany per Donna and Iris Poudre are twins.

A curious fact: Luca Turin (who is not always right but still) in the Book gave Tuscuny per Donna ****. Iris Poudre got just ***. So that SA was snobbish for nothing.

Image: my own

I’m not alone in this quest. Muse in wooden shoes found another relative of Iris Poudre.

For a real review for Iris Poudre read: Olfactoria’s Travels. I couldn’t find a good review for Tuscany per Donna, so here’s a link to the page 343 from Luca Turin’s Perfumes: the Guide where he writes about this perfume.