Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tuberose Series 6: Kai eau de parfum


Several celebrities are reported to wear Kai: Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner, Pamela Anderson, Tyra Banks, Kelly Ripa, Usher, Cate Blanchett, Alyssa Milano, Mary J. Blige, Kate Bosworth.*   It's also a forum favorite. It was originally released as an oil, and is intended to smell like a Hawaiian vacation.

Perfume Review: Kai edp
Date released: 1999 (?) in oil and 2006 in edp
Perfumer:  Gaye Straza Rappoport
Sample provenance: edp sample from luckyscent, 2010


Kai is probably more a gardenia-focused scent than a tuberose-focused one; nevertheless, it's definitely chock-full of tuberose. The listed notes are simply, “Gardenia, exotic white florals,” and that's pretty much what you get. The scent does start out with a stemmy greenness under the gardenia, and the first fifteen minutes is just delightful, recalling a greenhouse where the gardenias are in bloom. After that, I smell a lot of tuberose and a grassy jasmine, and the whole thing is pretty and simple and luxurious for two hours – and then it's just gone. I got four wearings out of my sample vial, and each time I got two, maybe two and a half, hours of scent. (I did layer it over some unscented shea butter twice, and the fourth time tried it on skin that had not been bathed for more than twenty-four hours, to see if that would make a difference. It didn't.) Either there's no base to this scent at all - and I see no typical basenotes are listed – or it's a light musk that I cannot smell.


To be honest with you, Kai smells to me very much like the perfumer simply added some sambac jasmine and tuberose essential oils together, perhaps tossing in a few green notes, diluted with denatured alcohol and some fixative, and called it a day. Mind you, it's very pretty, and I might be tempted to wear it in the summer, for a sundress scent, but it's sort of the olfactory equivalent of a milkshake: milk, ice cream, blend. That's it, you're done, and it's delicious but it didn't take any skill to make. Also, it's gone in a flash.

I did not try the oil, but maybe I should have. On the other hand, I have a feeling it would remind me of a concoction I smelled at a “natural perfumery” stall at our local permanent flea market, said concoction being made strictly of tuberose and jasmine sambac essential oils, in a carrier oil, and costing $12 for half an ounce.

The CEO and I stopped briefly, for five days, in Hawaii on our way back home from Australia and New Zealand a few years ago.  (Oh, come on.  Wouldn't you rather fly back via Hawaii than LA? That was a no-brainer.)  And it did smell wonderful, with tropical flowers and ocean breezes and coconut oil, and a freshness in the air, especially on the Big Island of Hawaii where we visited Volcanoes National Park - go if you possibly can, it's amazing and largely undeveloped.  Kai does not smell like that Hawaii vacation, however - the scents I've tested that made me think of Hawaii are Ormonde Jayne Frangipani and Maoli Colonia Dulce. 

The Bottom Line :
Quality    B Smells like natural florals but is very simply structured.
Grab-scale score   6
Short description     Tuberose Floral.
Cost    $$
Earns compliments:    Yes.
Scent presence:     Nice three-foot sillage, but very poor staying power in edp.
Review Report:   Now Smell This, For the Love of PerfumeBasenotes, Fragrantica  

* Celebrity info from luckyscent. 
Top image: Kai eau de parfum at ebay by andyfrog.  Middle image: Jasminum sambac by mondomuse at flickr.  Bottom image: Tuberose by Swami Stream at flickr.

7 comments:

世界 said...
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The Left Coast Nose said...

I'm so with you on this one-- I think about it, I take it out from time to time, I sniff it, I think, "Nice enough." Then I think "why"? As in, why not smell something deeper, more interesting, like Apothia "If" or Yosh "Ginger Ciao," if you need a tropical bump.

Why would something this straightforward become a cult/celebrity hit, I wonder...?

Mals86 said...

Exactly, LCN - I keep thinking, Why bother? Is this all there is?

Knowing that the woman who created it owned a boutique in LA does explain some of its appeal - it's exclusive, ooh la la!, and it IS pretty. But still.

I'm wearing Ubar today; what a rich thing that is, and how ridiculous Kai seems next to it.

Sharon said...

I just blind-puchased Kai and lo and behold, here is another review! I'm on a bit of a gardenia kick at the moment and so I am thoroughly enojoying Kai. I agree that it's a simple scent but, for me, that's a big part of its charm.

Mals86 said...

Sharon, it's definitely a pretty thing, and I can see its simplicity being enjoyable!

ChickenFreak said...

Thanks for the review. There used to be a store near me that had this prominently displayed, and I'd try it, and wonder what all the fuss was about, and if I owed it a more thorough wearing. (The packing is so _reverent_, as if the contents should be somehow lifechanging.)

It's nice to know that that there isn't all that much for the fuss to be about. :) I don't like white flowers without a twist, so now I know that this isn't for me.

flittersniffer said...

I agree with you all about Kai's simplicity and with Chickenfreak about liking white florals with a twist. Which is why I am so smitten with Amaranthine... : - )