I’d been hunting down today’s fragrance for many years, not in an obsessive kind of way, but enough to get me excited when I finally found it here in Japan on the second-hand market. It’s only got three notes – Tahitian vanilla, bitter orange and cacao – so you can probably predict what it’s going to smell like with decent accuracy.
I know neither the perfumer for this chocolaty, sweet, and comforting amber-vanilla scent, nor the year it came out, nor ultimately what house, if any, is responsible for it. Actually, I think it was released in 2005, and it was probably the restaurant by the same name that was responsible for its creation. And that restaurant is the iconic and overpriced NYC ice cream café famous for its frozen hot chocolate sundae/drink. Sounds bizarre, yes – like fried cheese or Mars bars (and probably tasty AF). And Serendipity is also the name of a 2001 American romantic comedy film starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. I enjoyed that film but had no idea at the time that the café where they met at the start of the movie was so famous. The café also featured in another movie from the 90s with Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney – One Fine Day.
The eccentrically-decorated ice cream parlor called Serendipity 3 has been around since 1954, and serves up a lot more than crème glace, apparently. Now I’ve been to the café’s website, but it doesn’t look like they promote or sell the fragrance there. In all honestly, I am not sure how to procure it in retail form. But I’m sure Lucky Scent sells it. I’d be surprised if they didn’t. Now, the bottle it comes in seems to have changed over the years, and I like the one you see here best. And this is probably the older one, which might contain an older formulation. I hate it when perfume formulae change, as it’s rarely for the better. In any case, I am so pleased to finally have this in my hands, and on my nose, so to speak.
To me, this fragrance is very cozy, warm, and comforting, like hot cocoa with marshmallows by the fire on a cold day when you’re feeling down from that time of the month. Or smores by the campfire, maybe. There is a hot and gooey toasted marshmallow sweetness to it that is not quite chocolate, but I do get chocolate. It’s literal and linear, yes, and although citrus is listed, it’s more in the background for me, which is sad, because I absolutely love Terry’s Chocolate Orange, which reminds me of Christmas as that’s when I would eat it as a kid. This is more of a melted vanilla ice cream with lots of chocolate sauce. I say melted because the temperature you feel is not ice-cream level; it’s definitely warm. While it’s hard to say no to ice cream and chocolate, this fragrance is far from a masterpiece to me. It’s not groundbreaking, not particularly original, but it’s well done and serves its purpose. I think it pairs particularly well with Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, which I highly recommend you mix if you want to be massaged and then devoured by a significant other. I do wish this scent lasted longer and projected more and were perhaps a little bit more complex.
There are a few fragrances out there that bear either a lot or enough semblance to Serendipitous that I cannot help mentioning in case you crave other options to get that delicious vanilla chocolate vibe. The cheapest one is Al Rehab’s Choco Musk, which I highly recommend, if only for the insanely low price. It lives close to the skin, but is a tad more complex than Serendipitous and perhaps lasts longer. It’s great for layering with woodsy fragrances. Mine is in oil format, which is not what I like. I also dropped it a while back, and it leaked out in a container with other roll-ons I had. I will probably replace Serendipitous with a 35 ml spray bottle of Choco Musk because I can get it for literally 10 USD, and am neither a fan of roll-ons nor oils (but I hear the oil is better). Serendipitous has better packaging, but I think Choco Musk is both easier to find and cheaper.
Another scent that is similar is Montale’s Chocolate Greedy, which is delicious, but definitely overpriced for what it is. Amour de Cacao by Comptoir Sud Pacifique is super, and not too pricy. I’ve enjoyed a few fragrances from CSP over the years, actually. I think they do a good coconut. I also hear that The Exact Friction of Stars Pilar & Lucy is close, as is Billie Eilish’s fragrance. Yes, she already has one. And of course, there are more chocolate fragrances out there, but the ones I’ve mentioned are indeed tres similar.
Strangely, at least to me, there are people that cannot smell any chocolate in Serendipitous, which I find difficult to comprehend, but instead, they get loads of vanilla. That part I can see. So for that reason, I think Serendipitous might also be a good alternative to pricy vanilla bombs like Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille, a very expensive and much-loved fragrance.