Laugh With Me Lee Lee, Something About Sofia and My Place or Yours Gina make up Benefit's new Crescent Row fragrance trio. They're a perfect fit with Benefit's kitschy / humorous aesthetic: they've got silly names, adorable cocktail-shaker inspired bottles, and outer boxes that look like row houses and fold open to show the home interior (see below; the scents were reportedly inspired by a row of Georgian townhouses in Bath, England). Benefit has wisely packaged them in small sizes (30 ml) at a reasonable price ($36). Benefit doesn't have the pull of Gwen Stefani and these aren't nearly as cute as the Harajuku Lovers dolls (and I'd guess they're geared to a slightly older audience), but still, I should think the same logic applies: everything about the project is so likable that so long as the scents themselves aren't repulsive, it's hard to see why they shouldn't succeed.
Laugh With Me Lee Lee is the lightweight of the bunch, and I'd guess it will be the biggest seller. It's designated as a "fun and feminine woody floral" but wears like your basic young fruity floral: sweet, sparkly fruity-citrus opening, vaguely watery (and still quite fruity) floral heart, pale woody musk finish (the notes: cassis, melon, citrus, black violet, lily, jasmine, blond wood, amber and sandalwood). It hasn't got loads of personality — or anything else in particular to make it stand out from the gajillion similar scents on the market — and it doesn't have more than minimal staying power, but hey. The bottle is cute and it's $36, which in today's perfume market qualifies as very nearly free.
Something About Sophia is supposed to be an oriental, but despite being warmer than Lee Lee, it's still awfully pale for such a thing. Sophia starts out in fruity floral territory (the notes: mango, freesia, sheer lily, jasmine, peony, musk, white caramel and vanilla bean), although it breaks even those rules by featuring recognizable floral notes in the heart instead of the usual mishmash of "things that might be flowers". It's pretty, and the dry down has a nice toasted vanilla sugar finish that's vaguely reminiscent of a MUCH softer and quieter Jessica Simpson Fancy. The lasting power is good, and it eventually takes on what March at Perfume Posse accurately calls a "gingerbread-ish" quality. I'm with March: this is the best of the three, although I doubt it will sell as well as Lee Lee.
My Place or Yours Gina is clearly meant to be the "sexy" entry. It's the darkest of the three, and might best be described as a second-cousin-thrice-removed to Thierry Mugler Angel, or what you'd get if you asked for an utterly innocuous version of Angel that a pre-teen could wear to school (the notes: pink pepper, bergamot, tangerine, peony, wild raspberry, lily, patchouli, tonka bean and vanilla). It's darkish and fruity all the way through; the dry down is a very (VERY) clean and soft patchouli-ish woody musk with candied accents. March hated it but I thought it was fine, if perhaps a bit less lively than the other two, and not nearly as sexy as its name might imply.
So, the usual blah blah blah (I can almost type this sentence in my sleep): nothing exciting and perfumistas needn't rush off in a frenzy to their nearest Benefit counter, but absolutely fine for what they are — and for the price. It does seem to me that if you're going to add new fragrances to the tsunami already on the market, and if you're not going to do the risky thing and make them original and distinctive, then the least you can do is what Benefit has done: give them fun back stories and adorable packaging, and keep the size small and the price low. Please, no more of the high concept but then we spent all the money getting famous models to take their clothes off and had none left for the juice or the packaging.
Benefit Crescent Row Laugh With Me Lee Lee, Something About Sofia and My Place or Yours Gina are available in 30 ml Eau de Toilette.