Proenza Schouler Arizona Perfume Review

Proenza Schouler Arizona

Mainstream Monday – Sniffing a Popular Perfume

There has been a lot of excitement and hype around Arizona because it’s Proenza Schouler’s first fragrance release. It’s been three years in the making (L’Oreal signed a licensing agreement in 2015). The brand has had a laid-back “it” appeal and worn by cool “it” girls like Rooney Mara. I feel like fashion folks were excited to see what a brand like Proenza Schouler would launch. Personally, I was happy to see the American Southwest be an inspiration for such a mainstream designer fragrance. But, ultimately, it’s a designer fragrance backed by L’Oreal so I wasn’t that optimistic.¹

The opening of Arizona is citrus blossoms with a salty cotton candy accord that reminds me of what’s in Mugler Womanity. There’s also an unexpected aquatic quality and generic “red berries” (neither are notes that are listed). Then it’s a fruity orange blossom meets iris. I’m loving this stage but on me, it’s fairly short lived. The heart is like dewy white florals and iris. It’s abstract but still recognizable. In that sense, it reminds me of a Georgia O’Keefe‘s simplified close-ups of flowers. It wears as this abstract, transparent floral for most of the wear. It’s like creamy white florals and salty skin. The dry-down is also abstract. But, this time it is powdery, like orris root and a diffusive amber. It’s definitely the sort of Cashmeran that is in Mugler Alien, but this time it’s a bit more iris-y.

For a fragrance inspired by a landlocked state and the desert, this perfume is surprisingly ozonic/dewy and borderline aquatic. With the white florals, saltiness and warm musk, it’s a very “beachy” fragrance to me. It’s like a sea breeze over warm sand and warm bodies covered in old school white floral tanning oil (think like Bain de Soleil).

Overall, I find Arizona to be a rather pleasing and conventionally pretty fragrance. However, it does seem like it’s created by L’Oreal. In a sense, it smells generic and like any designer brand’s name could have been slapped on it. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable in my opinion, but it may be disappointing for those that follow the brand more closely than I do.

Marlene Clark

Notes listed include orris, cactus blossom, jasmine, orange flower, solar accord, musk and cashmeran. Launched in 2018.

Give Arizona a try if you like the idea of a radiant white floral paired with iris. Or perfumes like Jo Malone London Nashi Blossom, Mugler Womanity (especially the summer flankers), Paco Rabanne Olympea (its flankers too), Maison Martin Margiela REPLICA Beach Walk and/or Lolita Lempicka Fleur de Corail. I think Arizona is a smart choice for summer or for when you want to be reminded of summer.

Projection and longevity are average.

Arizona comes in a few sizes with the 1.7 oz retailing for $100 at Saks. There are bath/body products available too. I’m so curious about the dry-oil.

Victoria’s Final EauPINIONBeachy white florals, salt and a breeze. Arizona is one of those perfumes that I’d probably wear if I had it because it does smell pretty and I don’t have to “think” about it. However, I already own stuff like Mugler Alien Flora Futura and Womanity. Yes, those are different, but I feel like I have the modern, abstract white floral base already covered.

¹I promise I’m not a snob! I’m just saying that a lot of designer perfumes play it safe because ultimately they sign away a license and it’s up to a bigger business to launch whatever and market it.

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*Sample obtained by me. Product pic from FeelUnique. Marlene Clark circa 1970 pic from Post contains an affiliate link. Thanks!

6 thoughts on “Proenza Schouler Arizona Perfume Review

  1. Ooh I’ve been waiting for a review of this (since I can’t be bothered lately to go sniff in person, too much sunshine (finally!) and laziness to be enjoyed at home ).
    I do like this kind of abstract beachy floral and iris, so I’d probably also enjoy wearing it. I enjoy Womanity and Alien but put them in my giveaway pile because I don’t use them anymore. Olympea is now my choice for this style in warm weather. Will still probably get a sample the next time I’m at Nordstrom though.

    I agree that I was somewhat but pleasantly surprised at the Southwest branding/“inspiration” for this. I don’t give brands enough credit with this statement, but I always assume they’re going to choose “sexy affluent” positioning over everything else. Thanks for the review!

    1. The good news is that this one isn’t as potent as any Mugler. It’s transparent but it does have some “body”. In comparison to Olympea, it’s “fresher” in that it has some greens. I think it’s a good designer perfume but I personally don’t need another thing like this (despite it being different enough). Anyway, it’s worth sampling.

      Exactly! It’s not some “noir” marketing or something outwardly being sold to me as “sexy”. It’s a fragrance inspired by pretty landscape in the US. I like this. More of this and less of the “sweaty 6-pack” marketing!

  2. The cactus flower must be a made up accord. I went around and sniffed every bloom that showed up and didn’t smell anything. Depending on where you go in Arizona you can get whiffs of conifers, cold, sage, creosote, dust, heat, star jasmine, datura and cow. But not cactus flower.

    1. Thank for the field work!

      I have no clue. My thought is that it is a fantasy orchid or maybe it’s based off of something like a cactus orchid. I have read before “saguaro flower”, which sounds lovely but is there a smell?! What I found interesting but didn’t comment on in the review is that “cactus flower” was popular in cheaper designer perfumes about a decade ago (i.e. Liz Claiborne Soul, Guess Dare, a ton of Victoria’s Secret…basically stuff you can get at Kohl’s now for $12) and those all smelled like fruity white florals…not far off from this but arguably with a lower budget. Then in the past few years we first had Hugo Boss Ma Vie and then two this year! This one and Mugler Futura Flora…all have the exact same color story (pale golds and pale pink). My point is that perfumery is really, really trying to make us associate “cactus flowers” with pale pink, gold and fruity-florals. You remember how bamboo was in the late 90’s/early 00’s? I feel like that is what is happening with cactus. For some reason we are to associate it with calmness, dewiness, lushness…

      And from your field work, we know they’re wrong 😉

      ALSO you just described a perfume that I would really want to wear!

  3. It tried this recently and it felt like, “fine” to me. Like a very average perfume in a way, although nicely composed. It isn’t for me, but I can see it being popular.

    On an unrelated note, I tried Elizabeth and James Nirvana Amethyst today and ended up reading your review from back in December. To me it smells exactly like a lighter, airier By Killian Single Malt. Maybe that’s what it reminded you of?

    1. I agree. It’s one that’s perfectly fine. I’m not going to go out of my way for it, but I’ll use the sample. It sounds snobby but I don’t mean it to sound that way…it just seems really L’Oreal-ish.

      Thank you! That may be it. Whatever it was, it was like it but more “sheer”. Very familiar but not like familiar in a way that would make me think of a more popular perfume (AKA one that has been around for years).

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