Mainstream Mania: Department + Drug Store Gems


Post by Portia


Heya Crew,

My mate Scott and I often talk about our love for Department Store and Drug Store (Chemist in Australia) fragrances. Many of our vintage loves are from the genre, also some of the designer and celebrity scents, as well as the huge multinational beauty companies. The mainstream has an enormous range and encompasses some of the best and worst of todays perfume market. So today we ask you a question……

Mainstream Mania

Department + Drug Store Gems

What do you love from the Department or Drug Store?

We spend so much time talking vintage, niche, indie and natural on the Scentblkggoshpere but what is your easy to find, grab it anywhere, no need to hoard it fragrance? I have a few but let’s chat about two nearly empty samples I’ve had rattling around in my box and one bottle that I adore today.

Tabu Dana FragranticaFragrantica

Dana Tabu EdC 1932

Top: Bergamot, Spices, Coriander, Neroli, Orange
Hear: Clove, Ylang-ylang, Oriental rose, Jasmine, Narcissus, Clover
Base: Amber, Benzoin, Oakmoss, Musk, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Cedar, Civet

Tabu is one of my favourites, it’s so pickable in public and one of my friends Lyndall has worn it forever. I have some of the older perfume and EdT but my absolute favourite version is the modern EdC. The opening notes smell like a sari shop in Alwar, Rajasthan that I love to shop at when in India. No idea what I’m smelling really because Tabu smells only of itself. Interestingly for me Jean Carles who created Tabu also created such fragrant luminaries as Shocking by Schiaparelli, Miss Dior, Indiscrete by Lucien Lelong and Ma Griffe by Carven: quite a roll call.

L`Eau Ambree PradaFragrantica

Prada L’Eau Ambrée 2009

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Lemon, Citruses
Heart: Patchouli, Rose
Base: Ambergris, Opoponax, Vanilla

Prada L’Eau Ambree is so weirdly named because to me most of the fragrance smells of anything but amber. The cool, wet, juicy citrus opening that morphs into a dirty patchouli/rose and wet cardboard. Finally I get a resinous salted vanilla that is completely inedible but dark and mysterious. I love the mood changes and byplay in L’Eau Ambree, it’s all about surprise and it never plays it safe. It’s not often talked about by the perfumista crew and that’s strange to me because it’s a solid fragrance that tells an enjoyable story.

Tresor In Love Lancome FragranticaFragrantica

Lancôme Trésor in Love 2010

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, Pear, Nectarine, Peach, Pink pepper
Heart: Jasmine, Peach, Taif rose, Violet
Base: Musk, Virginia cedar

Recently my mate Victoria at EauMG talked about Trésor In Love and I have always gravitated towards Lancôme Midnight Rose in the same bottle but purple. While looking for something else I came across 5ml of Trésor In Love and have been using it as my morning wake up scent to the point that it’s almost gone. As Victoria says, “It reminds me of a many perfumes launched around the same time that are like an abstract fruity-floral with clean, synth ambers.” Somehow though Trésor In Love is a more comfortable, easy wear, life is fun, zingy fragrance than most of the others and I find myself really enjoying the ride.

So what is your Mainstream Mania? Share your readily available favourites in the comments below please?
Portia xx

22 thoughts on “Mainstream Mania: Department + Drug Store Gems

  1. Ah Tabu! The print advertising for it back in the, ahem, 1970’s was hilarious! But a lover of the time was obsessed with the fragrance and insisted I wear it for him. At least he did not wear Brut, which was Everywhere! I find Arpege pops up every so often. Not really the same as she was, but pleasant enough.


  2. I always sniff when I get to the department stores, and like Infusion d’Iris quite a lot, and the Absolue.
    Bought Bottega Veneta, second bottle, it takes you anywhere. Then I had to buy the body cream…oops!


    • HA! Hey JackieB,
      Jin is on his 2nd bottle too of Bottega Veneta. He has the Shower Gel but not the moisturiser.
      Isn’t it gorgeous?
      Portia xx


    • Hi AnnieA,
      My Mum used to wear this but only ever had one bottle of it because we all used to call it Anus Anus and mock her mercilessly when she wore it. It was so funny and even writing this has me chuckling out loud here. We used to make her so mad.
      Portia xx


  3. Among drugstore, Grey Flannel is a clear winner in my book. In the mainstream designer market, Dior Homme is the best to come since 2005. It is, in fact, my favorite, designer or niche, released since 2005. I have not smelled any version of dior homme that came after 2012 so I have original formula of Dior Homme in mind.


  4. Ah Tabu, my first love! Bought in the chemist at Wingham in a Friday afternoon…..Id stay in town because Mum played tennis then and after getting sick of hitting against the practise wall,I’d be allowed to go downtown and book something up…..I got Ambush, Shulton Desert Flower which is a stonking Chypre, Lentheric 12….. Then I graduated to Taree, which had a great perfume section, because my cousin was married to the pharmacist and probably had the smelly gene…Bigarade, Farouche, Cristalle. When I moved to Forster I bought Bal A Versailles and Ysatis…to wear to work (art teacher)!!!!my treks to Sydney of course netted my Guerlains. I bought my daughters first perfume, the gorgeous first Miss Dior Cherie in Taree. Nowadays I can get Angel locally. My last Sydney purchase was a 4 x 15 from Hermes, my daughter collected it and those wonderful ladies in there gave her about ten samples. I’ve trekked to Bondi Junction to smell all the Chanels, and DJs the TFs…..then the Internet happened…:):):)


    • WOW! How perfumistas in rural Australia get their scent fix. So cool.
      The anticipation must have driven you wild Marion?
      We used to go to Taree to buy Australian native Aviary birds.
      Portia xx


    • OMG I forgot Diorissimo also from Taree….and I should say I’ve got a track in Sydney city I always go….along the wall in Myers, sniffing the sprayers , thru Mecca, around DJs…I really appreciate how Mecca is trying to keep prices faintly within spitting distance of OS ….


  5. I have a feeling L’Eau Ambree is discontinued? Still available online though. It’s easy to get it muddled with Prada Amber. Someone generously sent me a sample of Ambree and it is indeed a good piece of work.

    Cacharel is a great mainstream brand. Just about everything is worth trying. Loulou is my fave at the moment.


  6. I like Nirvana Black and the new Nirvana Bourbon. I’m also a fan of Black Opium even though most perfumistas really don’t like it. I guess I never expected it to smell like the original so I wasn’t that disappointed when it didn’t. I also love Tabu. Chanel Chance eau Fraiche is actually not that bad either.


    • Hey Poodle!
      Nirvana Black is awesome, I have a bottle of that too and Jin smells fab in Black Opium. I bet you and Tabu are heaven together.
      Portia xx


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