Comprehensive guide to fall perfume
A Guide To What Every New Fall Perfume Actually Smells Like.

If you’re looking for a sneak peek of what Tara Reid’s Sharknado perfume smells like, I cannot provide that. I can, however, provide insight into almost every new perfume on Sephora’s shelves and a sometimes striking juxtaposition between the perfume’s description and what the thing actually smells like. I would have shortened the descriptions for you if they weren’t so damn hilarious in their own right. (What exactly does “the boundless spirit of blue skies” smell like?)

All sniffing bows to the subjective character of experience, but I have been as honest and thorough as possible.

Viva La Juicy Gold Couture

Viva La Juicy Gold Couture

What Sephora Says: “Experience a couture overdose. The Viva la Juicy Gold woman is couture all the way, spinning an addictive web of glamour and decadence at the center of her golden world. This opulent rendition of Viva la Juicy indulges the senses with luscious wild berries, a kiss of honeysuckle, and a luxurious elixir of golden amber, melted caramel, and vanilla. All that glitters is gold.”

  • Notes: Berries, Honeysuckle, Golden Amber, Caramel, Vanilla
  • Style: Audacious. Decadent. Glamorous

What It Actually Smells Like: Nowhere in the description does it say that on the first whiff, your mind goes immediately to cotton candy. However, after a good while strolling around Sephora sniffing, the cotton candy faded to more of a gentle scent: organic cleaning supplies.

Prada Candy

Prada Candy

What Sephora Says: “Prada CANDY is instantly seductive—pure pleasure wrapped in impulsive charm. In an explosion of shocking pink and gold, Prada CANDY takes us on a walk on the wild side, showing us a new facet of Prada femininity where more is more and excess is everything. Magnified by white musks, noble benzoin comes together with a modern caramel accord to give the fragrance a truly unique signature.”

  • NotesCaramel, Musk, Vanilla, Benzoin
  • StyleCarefree. Sophisticated. Sensual

What It Actually Smells Like: It smells like a woman that’s so beautiful you can’t look away but who, when you look a little bit more closely, is wearing the most intense bitchface you have ever seen. You want to be here and run away at the same time. If that’s not a powerful enough image for you, think of flowers whose leaves are razor-sharp and will cut you if you touch them. In any case, it smells nothing like candy.

Burberry Brit Rhythm For Her

Burberry Brit Rhythm For Her

What Sephora Says: “Irreverent and free-spirited, the Brit Rhythm woman combines powerful femininity with a rock n’ roll edge. Inspired by the exhilaration and adrenaline of live music and the electric energy of the crowd, the fragrance is a fusion of sound and scent. As iconic and strong as the black leather jacket, the scent embodies free-spirited femininity and powerful sensuality with an edge.”

  • Notes: British Lavender, Orange Blossom, Vetiver, Musks.
  • Style: Sensuous. Feminine. Irreverent.

What It Actually Smells Like: It smells exactly like this summer salad that my mom makes with mango, cucumber, blueberries, and mint (very delicious, by the way, you should definitely go make some). Of course, when I looked at the description, I realized there were none of any of these ingredients, so I was confused. All I can say is it smelled spicy and sweet at the same time but was not one of my favorites.

Balenciaga Rosabotanica

Balenciaga Rosabotanica

What Sephora Says: “Rosabotanica is the latest addition to the botanical garden that is beautiful but dangerous. This fragrance is based on a contemporary green rose accord mixed with milky fig leaves. The heart of Rosabotanica comes from the experimental rose that is lightened by citrus notes and white woods.”

  • NotesExperimental Rose, Fig Leaf, White Amber
  • StyleSpicy. Beautiful. Dangerous

What It Actually Smells Like: Rosabotanica smells like an herbal tea your mom made you when you were sick OR some type of exotic herbal steam room that clears out your sinuses when you breathe it in. Even just a sample of it really cleared me out.

Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream

Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream

What Sephora says: “Inspired by the boundless spirit of daisies and blue skies, Daisy Dream reflects Marc Jacobs’ irresistible mix of intricate details, elegance, and femininity for a fresh interpretation of the iconic Daisy motif. The fruity-floral fragrance has a light and airy touch, bursting with top notes of blackberry, grapefruit, and pear. The heart notes are introduced with a bouquet of jasmine, lychee, and blue wisteria, and a medley of white woods, musks, and coconut water reveal the base notes.”

  • Notes: Blackberry, Grapefruit, Pear, Jasmine, Lychee, Blue Wisteria, White Woods, Musks, Coconut Water
  • Style: Ethereal. Free-spirited. Luminous

What It Actually Smells Like: Fresh and clean like Dove deodorant, and I mean that in the best way! It is elegant and feminine, but it’s also not as overtly floral as the bottle suggests. I do love subtle scents, but considering I had the tester halfway up a nostril and it was still very subtle, I don’t know if this will last you an entire day.

Victoria’s Secret Eau So Sexy

Victoria's Secret Eau So Sexy

What Victoria’s Secret says: “Fresh, flirty and forever young. A sparkling mix of vibrant florals meets a weightless kiss of lush fruits and ethereal warmth, making this signature scent for the girl who makes everyday glamour look Eau so easy.”

  • Fragrance type: Fresh Gourmand
  • Notes: Bergamot, paradise apple & Chantilly cream

What It Actually Smells Like: Green Apple Smirnoff. Period.

Giorgio Armani Si

Giorgio Armani Si

What Sephora Says: “Si is a tribute to modern femininity, an irresistible combination of grace, strength, and independent spirit. A modern chypre reinvented, Si opens with deep blackcurrant nectar that softly recedes to airy florals. A base of musky blond wood adds lightness while grounding the fragrance for a lingering, distinctive trail.”

  • Notes: Chypre, Blackcurrant Nectar, Airy Florals, Musky Blond Wood.
  • Style: Graceful. Modern. Unconventional.

What It Actually Smells Like: Giorgio Armani Si smells like you’re drinking an IPA (that’s a very bitter beer with bold hops) while sitting in a really beautiful old wood house by the fire. There are flowers on the table beside you, but there is only the slightest intermingling with the hops and the wood aroma.


DKNY My NY Donna Karan for women

What Sephora says: “The top is simultaneously spontaneous, playful, and bold with an exhilarating blend of raspberries and galbanum—crisp, green, and natural—spiked with accents of pink pepper. Built around sensual Egyptian jasmine, the stylish heart of the bouquet combines freesia with roots of orris. The background is a rich and deep woody note of patchouli heart LMR that blends perfectly with the creaminess of vanilla absolute and musk. Ambergris brings projection, vibration, and complexity. The trail is truly unique, contemporary, and powerful like New York’s irresistible appeal.”

  • Notes: Raspberry, Galbanum, Pink Pepper, Egyptian Jasmine, Freesia, Orris, Patchouli Heart LMR, Vanilla Absolute, Creamy Musks, Ambergris.
  • Style: Urban. Carefree. Spirited.

What It Actually Smells Like: Unfortunately, I can’t come up with much else for this perfume besides “displeasing.” Maybe there are just too many notes that my nostrils got confused; I’m not sure. I love DKNY and hate to insult them, but this perfume smells like it really was inspired by New York…maybe midtown. In the summer. At rush hour.

Dolce & Gabbana Dolce

Dolce & Gabbana Dolce

What Sephora Says: “Dolce is a gentle, feminine mix of white flowers introduced by the freshness of Neroli leaves and defined by the full-bodied scent of White Amaryllis, a South African flower used for the first time ever in scent. The Amaryllis is perfectly blended with a unique and opulent combination of White Water Lily and bold White Daffodil, creating a classic yet distinctly original floral fragrance.”

  • Notes: Neroli Leaves, Papaya Flower, White Amaryllis, White Daffodil, White Water Lily, Cashmeran, Musky Notes, Sandalwood.
  • Style: Delicate. Joyous. Avant-garde

What It Actually Smells Like: An erotic bubble bath. Don’t make me explain this one because I can’t.

Gucci Premiere by Gucci

Gucci Premiere by Gucci

What Sephora Says:” The fragrance opens with the luxury and exuberance of vintage champagne. A burst of effervescent bergamot fused with feminine and celebratory orange blossom conveys the heady excitement of the red carpet entrance. At the scent’s core nestle, the brilliant white flowers of an intense bouquet, laced with a magnetically sensual modern musk. The timeless allure of the leading lady, the perfect balance of power and sensuality, inspires a collective captured breath. The fragrance’s warm and indulgent foundation rests in a beguiling cocktail of subtly smoky leather and creamy balsamic woods that epitomizes absolute glamour.”

  • NotesBergamot, Orange Blossom, White Flower, Musk, Leather, Wood.
  • StyleBeautiful. Powerful. Sensual.

What It Actually Smells Like: “Powerful” might be an understatement. This scent is straight-up aggressive. Maybe I had the tester too close to my nostrils, but my eyes actually started tearing upon impact. I can’t tell you what it smells like, but it is definitely power woman / leading lady material.

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