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FRAGRANCES OF ’96 TEST SCENTS AND CENTS-ABILITY

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In Shakespeare's time, water was believed to be the domain of the devil. People avoided it at all costs. This, no doubt, resulted in some pretty rancid Europeans. The solution? Mask the pungent odors with perfumes.

We eventually picked up the practice of daily bathing, and perfumes now enhance our natural smells rather than hide them. Taking it even a step further, many scentmakers are bringing their signature scents into the shower with us.The 1996 perfume season includes more than just perfume. Almost every new fragrance comes in lotions and a variety of body sprays, body scrubs and washes, all designed to soak into the body and provide the longest lasting aroma possible. Before long there may even be matching breath fresheners.

Giorgio Beverly Hills is introducing two new fragrances this summer. Giorgio "Aire," available in department stores in July, claims to have captured Beverly Hills in a bottle. "Aire" is a light floral scent made from six California windflowers including pink camellia, yellow linden blossoms, red california poppy, purple American windflowers, white tuberanthia and green bamboo leaf.

Giorgio "Aire" re-creates California's summer breeze, which is both soft and warm and captures the "casual glamour" of the California woman. It comes in eau de toilette, body moisturizer and body wash, ranging in size from 1.7 to 6.7 ounces and costing between $20 and $55.

"If you come very, very close, you can hear the ocean. Ocean Dream by Giorgio Beverly Hills. Let it take you there," reads the advertising slogan of another new Giorgio scent, which will hit the shelves this month. The perfume is packaged in iridescent pastel glass, giving it the weathered look of a bottle just washed up on a beach.

The use of sea elements like pink pearl, seaside heliotrope, aquatic orange blossom, blue sea sandalood and blue musk gives "Ocean Dream" a fresh, airy aroma. Claiming the adjectives fresh, fruity and floral, this scent was meant to capture the tranquil yet savagely unpredictable ocean, and transfer the mysterious enchantment to any woman who can afford $125 for .5 oz of perfume. At the low end of the scale, the body wash costs $27.50. The line also contains moisturizer and dusting powder, similarly priced to the wash.

While Giorgio was capturing the essence of the ocean and Beverly Hills, Elizabeth Arden has been busy putting Manhattan into a bottle. Wisely leaving out the smog and car exhaust, Arden has otherwise captured the spirit of 5th Avenue. 5th Avenue, the fragrance, is floral and oriental with its topnote (first scent impression) of lilac, linden blossom, dewy magnolia and mandarin. Violet, ylang-ylang, jasmine, peach and rose Bulgarian blend into the midnote, or central scent. Lingering afterward, as the basenote, is a combination of amber, Tibetan musk, sandalwood, iris and vanilla.

5th Avenue appears in four forms. The Parfum Extrait, retail priced at $100 per .5 fl. oz., is intense and concentrated. The Eau de Parfum Spray, a lighter version, comes in 1, 2.5, and 4.2 oz. sizes for $32.50, $42.50 and $52.50, respectively. The body line includes gel cleanser and lotion, both in a 6.8 oz. container, selling for $20 and $25.

Ralph Lauren, who has been improving the male odor for years with Polo Sport and Safari, among others, introduced Polo Sport Woman in February. This is his first feminine fragrance in five years.

Polo Sport Woman works to invigorate and hydrate skin in addition to making it smell good. It's made from a blend of sea rocket, sea fennel, Pacific sea kelp and algae extract. These marine ingredients are rich in minerals and nutrients like vitamins A, C, D and E, amino acids and carotene. Sport Woman is designed to please both the skin and the sniffer.

The eau de toilet contains a topnote of water mint, fresh citrus, orange flower and eucalyptus. The heart of the scent includes California poppy, freesia, water white lily and mango plum, while the basenote mixes white musk with several wood aromas like ebony and cedar.

In addition to the eau de toilette, Sport Woman is also a body scrub, spa wash, gel moisturizer, dry oil body spray and coolessence body spray. The skin line is priced around $20-$30 for bottles between 3.5 and 6.7 ounces. The eau de toilette sells for $55 for 5.1 ounces and $40 for 3.4 ounce.

The International House of Escada came up with a marketing idea four years ago. They designed a perfume to go with their fashion line then took it off the shelves with the clothing at the end of the season. The practice has continued for three years. This year "Jardin de Soleil" mimics the bright floral prints and swirling fabric of the 1996 fashion line.

Jardin de Soleil means, literally, Garden of Sun. This concept bloomed into existence using wild rose leaves, crocus, pink lily of the valley, narcissus and peach apricot, among others. The result is the essence of spring captured in limited edition perfume, body lotion and bath and shower gel.

Jardin de Soleil eau de toilette is $35 for one ounce, going as high a 3.4 ounces for $65. The body lotion and bath and shower gel, both 5.1 ounces, cost $30 and $25 respectively. The product is available through September. It's found only at Nordstrom and select department stores in the valley.

Matching seems to be the key to fragrances this season. Every scent comes in lotions and other such potions that match the perfume. The impression that often reaches people first and stays with them last, our personal odor, is constantly being improved as we coordinate our smell with our moisturizers, cleansers, even our clothing. Elizabeth Arden, Giorgio, Escada and Ralph Lauren make more and more scents (and cents) every season.