P.S. I Love You is the latest fragrance release from Bath & Body Works, and it takes its place in the “Romantics” family of the company’s Signature Collection. It was developed by perfumer Dave Apel, who designed the fragrance as a “modern experience” of the rose. In this respect, Bath & Body Works is joining the trend that Stella started in 2003 (has it been that long?!). The company still seems to be hedging its bets, perhaps fearing that a rose perfume might be judged too old-fashioned by its target audience: roses don’t appear in the fragrance’s name or label, and in the website photos, the bottles are accompanied by flowers that could just as easily be peonies as roses. There’s a similar fear of commitment, so to speak, in the promotional text. Early press releases described P.S. I Love You as a scent of “timeless love” and “heartfelt love,” but the company website now calls it “Our flirtiest fragrance ever!”
Everyone has his or her own ideas about love, but I’d personally place this fragrance beyond the initial, giggly glow of a first date and into the more comfortable, intimate zone of an established romance. Its official list of notes includes “Fresh Citrus, Lychee, Peony, Yellow Rose, Sparkling Riesling, Scarlet Velvet Rose, Orchid, Purple Lilies, Jasmine, Hypnotic Incense, Creamy Sandalwood, Patchouli, Golden Amber, and Musk.” Reading that list, I expected a clone of Stella, so I was happy to find that this fragrance does have a personality of its own; not a dramatic or adventurous personality, but a pleasant one nonetheless.
P.S. I Love You's introduction is bright and just a little bit juicy, and reminds me fleetingly of Rose d’Été from Les Parfums de Rosine. A fruity wine note quickly emerges — this must be the Riesling idea — but it manages not to be cloyingly sugary. Then another transition leads the fragrance from a winey rose into a lightly musky rose with a tart edge. The dry down is a warm, slightly sweet rose-peony-sandalwood blend that stays fairly close to the skin. And, fading in and out, there’s an amber note that has a cocoa-powder aspect to it. This fragrance has medium staying power, and you can apply it freely without worrying about too much sillage. The Eau de Toilette’s bottle design (see above left) is unusually abstract for Bath & Body Works: its “hand-written” name is enlarged and cropped across a shaded background.
This fragrance has also been formulated as a limited edition Eau de Parfum (see above right), another innovation for the brand. The Eau de Parfum’s bottle is inspired by antique inkwells and paperweights, and when you look down at it, you’ll see a quotation “written” within the bottom of the bottle: “In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities.” (This must be the first time the Hungarian poet János Arany has been cited in a beauty-product scenario.) This concentration is heavier on the powdery amber, which starts sooner and stronger, and its dry down has an added peppery-rose note.
Overall, if you pick up P.S. I Love You expecting a lush, earthy rose like Frederic Malle Une Rose or a complex, spicy rose like Guerlain Nahéma, you’ll probably be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for an easy-to-find, versatile red-rose scent priced under $50, P.S. I Love You is well worth trying. I prefer it to several other mainstream rose fragrances, such as Bvlgari Rose Essentielle or Givenchy Very Irrésistible (both of which have always felt sharp and thin to me). In terms of wearability and value, I’d compare it with the more gourmand, tonka-and-patchouli based Rose Absolue from Yves Rocher.
I’m curious to see how P.S. I Love You will do at Bath & Body Works; it’s richer and more perfume-like than the company’s various “Fresh” scents, but far more subtle than Warm Vanilla Sugar, for example. It should appeal most to the over-21 demographic, which is always a welcome turn of events in mass-market fragrances as far as I’m concerned.
P.S. I Love You Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum are flanked by the usual array of Signature Collection body products and home fragrance, all labeled with a 1980s-style watercolor-heart motif, as well as limited edition items like a box of note-cards and a CD of love songs. It’s also nice to see the company offering a trial-size bottle of Eau de Toilette, paired with a small body lotion in a set titled “Love at First Sight.” Sometimes, you do need to ease into things slowly, in perfume as in romance.
Bath & Body Works P.S. I Love You Eau de Toilette sells for $29.50 for 75 ml; the Eau de Parfum is priced at $45 for 75 ml.
(Bath & Body Works is also holding a “Share the Love” contest; you can submit your own photo and “love story” for a chance to win a $500 Bath & Body Works gift card.)