Wanted (Helena Rubenstein)

Demi Moore is a dark, dignified beauty with steely eyes and a voice like raspy honey. Even though she hails from parts untrammeled by Spanish moss, there's something inexpressibly Southern about her-- that creamy, pale allure which evokes a magnolia flower in deep shade; that tough survivor's armor upheld by perfect beauty-queen posture. Strong, graceful, uncompromising, she strikes me as a paragon of feminine self-possession-- in short, the perfect candidate to front an aspirational fragrance.

I figured a great big syrupy white floral would be a no-brainer for Ms. Moore. Yet when Wanted debuted in 2009, its magazine scent strips smelled more like sticky prune pastry; layer it with a coffee fragrance, and you'd have a Continental breakfast to go. Such were my doubts that I didn't actually wear Wanted until it was already discontinued. More's the pity... because this stuff is downright marvelous.

My brand-new-in-the-box bottle was given to me by a friend who had scored several of them at a local cosmetic outlet with rock-bottom wholesale prices. Now, before you start riffing on the phrase "rock-bottom", please remember: all that is gold does not glitter. A perfume need not be designed by Serge Lutens nor sell for a small fortune in order to be good-- and Wanted is exactly that. A slightly richer, more full-fleshed magnolia riff on CK Euphoria's plum-and-incense theme, it radiates a graceful femininity that suits any mood, circumstance, or season. All of my misgivings vanished in a warm, cashmere-soft haze of vanilla-infused sandalwood that lasted like a dream. Surprise, surprise!

But don't just take my word for it; let the vox populi cast the final vote. When I spray-tested a tiny amount of Wanted at my office, ladies of all ages and backgrounds literally came running. They lined up to heft that heavy glass hand-grenade of a bottle in their palms, oohing and aahing at the way the cap snaps onto its base as if magnetized. They sprayed and sniffed, sniffed and sprayed, expressions suffused with delight. If that doesn't prove this fragrance's worth, what does?

For Demi's sake, I wish that Wanted had been more successful. But had it gone the route of blockbuster ubiquity like Lancôme Trésor or Jennifer Aniston, we'd all be bored to tears with it already. Better that this flower should bloom once and melt away, leaving behind a memory of pleasure that lasts for all time.

Scent Elements: Magnolia, ylang-ylang, iris, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla