Ah, the mythical "search for one's signature scent." If you're lucky, your "signature scent" just finds you--it's what you just happened to be wearing when something amazing happened and your life was wonderful, and you wear it now to feel like you're still that girl and your life is still the same. For me? 7th grade and my first boyfriend were all about Colors de Benetton. My epic 4th year of college, CHANEL Coco and, that spring, I was the first of my friends to nab Coco Mademoiselle when it debuted. Studying abroad in Italy that summer, Coco Mad was shelved as I discovered the Comptoir Sud fragrance collection, L'Artisan and, eventually, my One True Love: the original Dolce & Gabbana woman with the red cap. That fragrance was everything, like incense and elegance and pure seduction. I got compliments whenever I wore it. My husband used to smell it in the hallway of our apartment building before we ever met (we were next door neighbors).
Then it was discontinued, and my world fell apart.
Well, not really, but it did mean that I was kind of back on the market again, looking for a new olfactory life partner. A new Dolce & Gabbana woman was launched, but its grotesquely synthetic and candylike reformulation isn't even a shadow of its former self; there is no hint of the original left at all (yet the packaging has inexplicably remained unchanged--as if we wouldn't notice).
And life goes on, and things change, and your tastes and habits evolve. We live in a house in the country now, and many days something as blatantly seductive as my old love is actually too potent for the day to day. My husband's happy place is his garden now, not the bars and clubs, and it seems that his olfactory preferences have evolved, as well; he's come to love florals of all kinds, and his current favorite scent is Diptyque Olene.
But then I discovered Kai. And let me tell you something about this grassy, clean, damp, fresh, humid white floral: it is everything. It is so many things. Here are just a few of them:
- Know the difference between walking into Sephora and sticking your nose into a fresh garden blossom, dripping with cool dew in the early morning sunlight? Unlearn everything you thought you knew about floral fragrances (Sephora--gag), and hear this: Kai is not your grandmother's headachey floral. It is the smell of a flower: something white, gardenia perhaps, though I hesitate to say that because I abhor most "gardenia" scents (Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, I'm talking to you). This. Is. Not. That.
- If it matters to you: men are obsessed with this stuff. Usher actually said in an interview that it's his favorite fragrance on a woman. How many guys do you know that are that opinionated about women's fragrances?
- If it matters to you: women are obsessed with this stuff. Particularly: famous women. Like, everyone you've ever heard of wears it, or has worn it. So many famous women wear this scent that they actually could devote an entire page on their website to listing their names. And who do famous women date? Famous men. See above. I actually considered titling this review "How to seduce a celebrity," because I kind of believe that Kai must be some sort of celebrity aphrodisiac.
- Simplify your life: Kai has an entire line of flankers (that's beauty world speak for "accompanying products") that are amazeballs. There's the requisite body washes, creams, and lotions, but also exfoliants, hand creams, shampoo and conditioner, body oil, aluminum-free deodorant (amazing), and even these cool scrubby sponges that are ingeniously impregnated with Kai scented soap and seem to last for about 50 showers rather than the 30 that they promise. Everything is so conscientiously and deliberately formulated, which is music to the beauty editor's ears: these aren't just additional products that smell like Kai, but rather independently crafted beauty products that can absolutely stand alone on their own merit and quality, with top notch ingredients and an eye to keeping things as natural (phalate, sulfate, and paraben-free) as possible. The shampoo and conditioner totally give you mermaid hair, by the way. Look out, Blake Lively.
I'll never be 100% committed to a single fragrance again, because I have way too many fun scents in my collection, with happy memories to go along with them. Good fragrances that remind me of bad boyfriends, such as Versace Woman and Dolce & Gabbana Sicily. The both sweet and aromatic Reminiscence Mi Fa that I bought on my trip to Venice with my family and 18 month old daughter. Hermes 24 Faubourg from my honeymoon in Rome. The same bottle of Chanel No. 5 EDP that I wore on my wedding day. My husband's CHANEL Antaeus, the most masculine and seductive fragrance known to mankind. And the Kai that I wore on my first snowboard trip with my daughter, now age 3, and my year old son, mingling with the musky, spicy scent of my Kevin Murphy Shimmer Shine. The Kai that I'll be wearing this summer in the most humid weather, perhaps layered with my Finn & Co White Sand for a vintage sunscreen feel for day, and mixed with my Annick Goutal Les Nuits D'Hadrien for a sweet and deep evening scent. With so many ways to wear it (an EDP--my favorite--or a perfume oil--great for layering), this just might be my signature way to add my own touch to everything that I wear. Everything with my Kai.