Monday, January 18, 2010

SOTD: Hugo Boss Boss Woman

The non-niche, non-classic sample testing continues today with Hugo Boss Boss Woman Eau de Parfum.

I used up another plastic atomizer, so that I could test this sprayed. And the sample was generous, so I was able to put on a full wearing's worth. Why all this detail? Because this perfume is skating on the edge between worth owning, and not worth owning, so I want to offer any details that might have influenced my impressions. I should also note that the card refers to this as "the new fragrance by Hugo Boss", while Basenotes says that this has been out since 2000. Hmm.

The most extensive notes documentation that I can locate lists top notes of kiwi, mango, pineapple, kumquat, and orange, heart notes of freesia, orris, violet root, cananga flower, and passiflore, and base notes of vanilla, musk, sandalwood and cedar. While I can accept that those notes are there, that list definitely doesn't predict the experience. In fact, it's enough of a puzzle that I did some extra searching to reassure myself that there's no Flanker Identity Crisis going on. I was reasonably reassured, so, on to the experience:

The first few seconds had a nail polish remover feel, but that faded so fast that the momentary chemical flash was enjoyable.

Immediately following that, I got a very masculine vibe, and a basket of "reminds me ofs". The background is a bit like the satisfying background of some Jo Malone fragrances, like Sweet Lime & Cedar - something solid and "chewy", probably the woods plus something sweet, as a base for the fresher, more volatile notes.

Above that, there was something that reminded me of Douce Amere. That means absinthe to me, and a reviewer on Amazon refers to a vermouth scent. So I guess that averages out to wormwood - which is definitely not in the notes list.

That was gone within minutes, and then it was rather citrusy, but a somewhat bitter and unfamiliar citrus, like the rind of a sour fruit that I haven't smelled before. Then that shifted into something more herbal. Lavender? Sage? Both? Neither? Are we in fougere territory here? More searching of my memory, and I realized that it reminded me of the cypress and citrus combination in Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien.

Then most of that went away, and within half an hour of application I was down to the pleasant, chewy, slightly sweet, slightly powdery, fractionally-too-synthetic main show, with some of the vanished notes back in minor roles.  It reminded me even more of Sweet Lime & Cedar - not just the Jo Malone base now, but the citrus and wood also had a similar feel, though they were far less aggressive than in the Jo Malone. And there was still just a little of Eau d'Hadrien and just a little of Serge Lutens Douce Amere.

At this point, I got my first hint of floral, presumably the freesia. This, plus the sweet and powdery elements (orris?) finally made it smell like a woman's fragrance. Not ruffles and frills, and nicely low-pitched, but the aggressively masculine aspect was gone.

Edited to clarify, in case you're asking, "What do you mean, half an hour? That's not enough time for development!" I did give it more time than that, and I don't mean that it was finished developing after half an hour. Several hours in, the above description still fit, but it was very gently developing, almost imperceptibly growing less sweet and chewy and more dry and powdery. About nine hours in, it's mostly soft, dry powder, reminding me very much of Douce Amere.

It's starting to grow on me. I've always been a person who doesn't like "things" in my ice cream, or my bread pudding, or my cream soups. I sometimes have a similar reaction to Jo Malone perfumes - I like that comfy satisfying base, and I find myself wishing that I could have it without so many "things" in it. Boss Woman may be the perfume to fulfill that craving. Or the lurking "generic synthetic" note may bloom and knock it right out of the running.

For those who don't share my specific weird craving, this might serve for those occasions when the strange and unusual could be a problem. It's an inoffensive, mannerly, buttoned-down fragrance, but it's neither stupid or cringing.

Review Roundup: Why is it that the non-niche perfumes seem to have fewer reviews? Fragrantica and Basenotes, and if I find more, I'll return to add them.

(Edited to add information on the later stages.)

Image: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Had to laugh at your not liking "things" in your ice cream. I've said for some time now that The CEO are ice-cream incompatible: I like "bits" in mine (nuts, chocolate, fruit, whatever) and he likes it smooth. I like mine hard enough to eat with a fork; he allows his to partially melt. He likes French vanilla; I prefer vanilla bean.

    (All is well. We both like mushroom omelets.)

  2. Yes! No bits in ice cream!

    Usually. I can tolerate itty bitty chocolate shavings, or crushed peppermint candies in peppermint ice cream. (Peppermint baby cone at Mix. Mmmmmm.)

    But raisins in bread pudding are a crime against civilization. Even though everybody puts them in there. :)

    I used to like my ice cream rock hard, but aliens replaced my personality with someone who likes it soft. It's very odd.

    I'm hungry now.

  3. May I mention (as a former brand manager for a food company) that "bits" have an interesting variety of technical names:

    In fruit juice: "cells"
    In yoghurt: "drooplets"
    In soup: "particulates"

    Particulates in soap (I just assigned them that name) are a major bete noire of mine, so much so that I have been planning to do a blog post on this very subject for some time.

    Back to the subject in hand....I don't recall Boss Woman being quite as kaleidoscopic a scent experience as you depict, so have fished out my sample to test today. I haven't tried it for at least 18 months, in which time my nose should have evolved somewhat!

  4. Drooplets? Hee.

    In soap?! Are they non-dissolving? That would be really annoying. I remember being stunned that Lush would put anything non-dissolving in their bath bombs. Dissolving would still be moderately annoying.

    Most of the changes in Boss Woman happened in the first half hour, maybe less - after that, it's a veeeeeery slow journey from chewy to powder

  5. Non-dissolving particulates in soap are indeed a disturbing trend - in the UK, certainly. Everything from poppyseeds to flecks of wheatgerm or lavender to miniature roses made of wood!

    Okay, so I wore Boss Woman and very shortly after application it went SPLAT, by which I mean it melded with my skin in such a way that it was hard to pick out individual notes at that point. I could say fruity-musky-woody, but really I am just stabbing in the dark. This tendency for scents to "go splat" on me may be a winter phenomenon or linked to my changing hormones. Time will tell, but meanwhile Boss Woman was all right, actually.

    I do have a newly discovered soft spot for Deep Red (but not Deep Red Intense!) and right when I was on the cusp of becoming a perfumista, and only owned a rancid bottle of EL Intuition, I had also managed to acquire a sample vial of Boss Femme, which I thought pretty at the time, but have since outgrown. If you feel the need for any CPD in pink things, you could consider giving that one a spin... : - )

  6. "The first few seconds had a nail polish remover feel"

    Hahahaha... That sums up so many perfume testing sessions for me. You spray it on, and then think, Oh No! What have I done?? I'm glad it got better anyway.

    Really enjoying the non-niche, non-classics. Great idea.

  7. Hiya, SignatureScent! And why isn't your blog in my List Of Blogs To Read? I'm sure I've read it; it must have slipped off the stack. I'm tucking it back in there.

    Yep, it faded fast enough that I wasn't scared. :) If I had a problem with masculine scents, then I would have been scared for about half an hour there; as it was, I was just a _little_ disappointed when it shifted to girly.

    And, thanks! I am kind of enjoying testing some perfumes where, if I like it, the next question isn't, "Is it available in this country?" (or this decade?).

  8. flittersniffer, that's Just Wrong about the soap. (Wooden roses?! Do these people all take standup showers and have giant uncloggable drain pipes? Hmph.) And here I was _highly_ indignant about an itty bitty bit of itty bitty green glitter in one of those Lush things.

    I'm not _seeking_ more pink, but it's possible that I'll feel ready to brave it again in not too long. :)