Mandragore

Aubergine Annick Goutal ridged bottle, half full.

Modern warlock potion.

Zings with citrus and black pepper out of the bottle, then sweetens up for a little while with anise and ginger. Other herbs are mashed up in there too, and the concoction constantly shifts, releasing smoky bubbles of impossible spell components for several hours–black violet leaf, glass wormwood, electric lavender.

Settles down to a bite of green on the skin, and is gone by noon.
Flips to the grimoire page of unisex.

*

I love this.

Green Lover

A bit of clematis leaf and sample vial, with Lolita Lempicka promo card featuring a waterfall over green mossy rocks.

I never really thought of Shamrock Shakes as sexy, but daaamn–this is a guy’s gourmand done right.

A milky mint confection spiked with orange flavored gin–(Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla is a pretty nice one)–that elevates it out of after school detours for fast food and into high end pastry shops with a liquor license.

Lolita Lempicka’s trademark syrupy-yet-powdery vanilla musk, here turned into sweet green teasing shadows, drifts in and out of intimate space all day, whispering invitations to drinks and dessert.
Yum.

*

Valentino Uomo Acqua

Cut crystal mini flask with tiny cherry tomatoes on the vine.

Lovely tomato greens honed sharp with citrus, but then they soften–the sage takes the iris and turns it into that dusty rime on herb plants, rather than sweet powder.
Then Acqua (an odd name for this flanker because I don’t find it aquatic at all) slowly eases down to high quality Italian shoes, but they’re green and soft, keeping some of that suede texture that both sage and tomato leaves have.

Refreshing and smart–lasts half the day in personal space, longer on cuffs.

*

Bassi was one of the founders of the Italian hip-hop scene–this one came out in 2017, the same year as Uomo Acqua. My favorite line (that translates well into English) is “I have always been half rapper, half man, divided halfway between the sky and Milan.”

Arancia di Capri

Sample card and promo spray in Acqua di Parma’s signature navy blue. The company crest is a crowned shield with a rampant lion, some griffins and maybe a tree trunk on an ermine field, all wreathed in jingle bells.

Opens with juicy tart mandarin slices, and some petitgrain and a hint of cardamom–that all comes together like a nice splash of summer tea, in intimate space.
Melts down over an hour, to the faintest smudge of orange flavored caramel on the skin.

The quality of ingredients is quite nice. I’d be impressed with the performance if Arancia di Capri were an eau de cologne, but for a shy eau de toilette it’s a bit costly.
Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra is a bolder, sweeter tea, and 4711’s Acqua Colonia Myrrh & Kumquat has a sharper, more interesting citrus. Both are longer lasting at better prices.

*

Found this one the other day.


Novacaine

Opaque black bottle with silver cap, box and slate blue inner liner with Rocky Horror lips, and toothpaste, toothbrush and floss.

TokyoMilk No. 85 lists Crushed Ginger, Thai Pepper, Frankincense and Vanilla Orchid on the box, but it opens with Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
The pepper kicks in immediately and makes the ginger, cardamom and clove mix a bit antiseptic, in a comforting way–like Band-aid adhesive–then it all soaks into the skin, leaving a smear of vanilla frosting and a dusting of head-shop olibanum.
Within two hours, it disappears, gone completely numb.

I really like it. There’s a laid-back medicinal feel to it, with good self-care cuddles.
Good for the guy who’s still too young or shy to pull off Old Spice.

*

My favorite laid-back jam band version–

Toy Boy

Moschino promo card and sample spray, advertising a black bottle in the shape of a teddy bear.

This guy is fun, jeans and a whimsical graphic tee with nice shoes–he can tell a great joke without punching down, knows good drink recipes, and flirts with just his eyes.

Quick pink pepper and slice of pear, with a pinch of spice at the beginning, then an earthy–almost oily–masculine woody rose blooms in personal space for half the day.
Drifts down to the skin with more woods and fluffy fiber notes–the way a new skein of silk mohair yarn smells, a bit musky and animalic, and so, so soft–for a few more hours.

Lighthearted, affordable and a nice change from the ginger-lavender-vanilla mash-ups that are everywhere right now.

*

An earthy song by the Rosewood Thieves.

Apart

Three sketchy white turnips with purple tops, sitting on their cut off greens.

A follow-up to my short story Views.

*

Clara sank deeper into the shadows of her neighbor’s garden.

The plague-searcher skulked past, blackened fingertips clutching the white stick she used to prod the dead. The vulture took her pay from the magistrate, though Mother had only succumbed to consumption.

Clara hadn’t coin enough for the truth.
Now a red cross barred her door.

She pushed rhubarb leaves apart, peering up the street. Body collectors would soon come calling for corpses, shovels brandished like devils’ pitchforks.

Clara crept back to her open window. She’d share her stolen turnips with the guard posted on her stoop.
He kept everyone out.

*

Amazing Grace Bergamot

Squarish bottle with silver tall top cap filled with pale pink eau, and a label illustrated with flowers and lemons.

The Amazing Graces can be a bit shrill to me, but a friend recommended this one, so I had to stick my nose in it. Bergamot is smoother than the other flankers, more aromatic-container-garden than cut-flower-bouquet.

Soft citrus zest and pale orange flower with some cool lily-of-the-valley green, that warms up with a hint of sheer herbal rose (that might actually be geranium) then slides down to elusive musk.

Philosophy advertises this as an eau de toilette, but it performs more like a cologne splash, a refresher that stays close to the skin for a few hours.
Makes for a brilliant mask spritz.

(Thanks, Bethe!)

*

The Bergamot is a husband wife duo with a fun positive vibe.

Incanto Dream

Pink Incanto Dream mini bottle, on a heap of clear Jolly Rancher candy with purple edged wrappers.

Pineapple Jolly Ranchers, and greasy on the skin.
Lasts two hours with no projection and stains the cuffs.

For a sweet fruity floral with a woodsy bottom, Angel Nova is a better investment, with four times the performance and six times the quality.

Or just eat the candy.

*

Another dream. This one has angsty kissing with Scott Eastwood.

Sécrétions Magnifiques

Etat Libre d’Orange target motif box and sample spray, with a blue circumcised pencil eraser.
(Best bachelorette party ever.)

Eldo’s divisive masterpiece has distinct topography.

At arms length, we go down a flirty Rococo corridor, powder pastel whispery blue iris, edged with coconut cream. A sweet pretty floral, like those sugar pastilles that taste of cosmetics.

Breaching personal space opens the boudoir door, and we’re thrust into the climax of an orgy–the smell of sweat, fluid and semen hits the back of the throat before we even see who is connected to whom, and how.

Plenty has been asked about context. Would this, on a totally blind sniff without knowledge of the name, still have the same connotations? (Can the innocent innately understand the scent of sex?)

The cloying milky-metallic ooze–with a weird side note of bleach musk–is instantly recognizable, quite loud, and long lasting.
Sécrétions does indeed have a magnificent time, for hours and hours. Perhaps there is tantric practice involved.

Eventually, finally, the earthy dissonance eases down until there’s nothing left but a sweet balsamic afterthought on the skin.

It’s kind of amazing.

Would I wear it? Absolutely not.
Do I keep it around to dare friends to sniff? Absolutely.
(Good revenge on my scotch drinking pal who slipped me that shot of Laphroaig–the stuff tastes like bogwater dipped in tar–just to watch my face.)

*

This cover is just wrong. Brilliant, but wrong.
(Like Secretions, very NSFW.)