Poe’s Tobacco

A white cat sniffs an apple on a green leather bound collection of Edgar Allan Poe, with a TokyoMilk bottle featuring a raven.

“Long Covid” is a thing.
I’m getting better, just more slowly than I thought. It’s been 10 months, now.
(The guy hasn’t got his taste back properly, and says the sky looks pinker than it should.)
The waves of exhaustion come and go, with joint pain popping up in odd places–a ghost in the machine–and shrouding sensations that make me doubt my nose and my playlists.

Sometimes my most beloved songs seem flat, the blues going gray.

I took a break from the sniff tests for a few months, nervous that my receptors were too scarred to function properly.
I’ve found comfort in my old favorites–Tank Battle has been a constant through this two-steps-forward-one-step-back recovery–spraying more, pressing my nose deeper into my skin, rejoicing at the familiar notes in the muted performance.
Not all have stayed the same, though.

Poe’s Tobacco–which used to be an autumn go-to, with apples and amber and tea–now seems more summery, orchard blossoms and sun in trees, and maybe some jasmine I wasn’t aware of before.
The tobac still gives it depth, but the woods lean more floral now, and less toward books in shadowy corners. I’m sad about it, that the niche-but-accessible cleverness has worn off.

A nice, easy to find vintage–but not quite as offbeat and fun as I remember.
I hope it’s just me.

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A haunting rendition that still rings true.

Sunflowers

Amber eau mini capped with white, with a yellow flower crest, sitting on a pile of salted seeds, against a flag blue background.

“Take these seeds and put them in your pocket, so sunflowers will grow when you die here.” -Ukrainian curse

Elizabeth Arden’s iconic 90’s soapy melon salad smells of Scooby-Doo fruit snacks, Beanie Baby pellets, and Bill Clinton’s saxophone spit, and nothing like sunflowers, or war.

I’m a bit sideways today. The world seems unreal, sometimes.

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The Ukranian Armed Forces asked a soldier–Taros Borovok–to write them a fight song, the day Putin invaded. He praises the Turkish combat drones that slowed the Russian forces that day.

Brune Melancolia

Black and white solid perfume canister, with orange and yellow rose.

Sad rose yogurt.

The citrus opens too tart–soured by the sandalwood, maybe–but then berries and a bit of spice get stirred in, sweetened with floral syrup.
The moody violet/cassis finish on the skin is nice, after the first disappointing hour–the start seems like something you’d taste in the dairy aisle at the happy-hippy food co-op, rather than a fragrance.

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The most melancholy song ever–

And Soul

White bottle with gold cap and graphic anatomical heart, on a linen tea towel, with hand sifter, sprinkled with all purpose flour.

Orange flour water.
Seriously, this stuff has a weird dusty bread dough thing going on.
The bottle says Oolong Tea, Bamboo Reed, Orchid & Air (whut?) and White Musk, but I get sweet uncooked enriched buns, with that puff of powdery steam when you punch the rise down.

Doesn’t last or project much. Leaves a smudge of sugary floral musk on the skin for a few hours, but that’s all.
A good gift for home cooks.

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I’m hungry, now.

Moroccan Leather

Memo Paris black white and gold promo card and test spray on a jade dyed leather wallet bought in Marrakech.

If leather grew on trees, with patent leaves on on suede stems–
This is the finest full grain, sultry green, almost pulpy, tanned by smoke bark plants and orange blossom, with smooth iris and ginger underneath.

Both animalic and verdant, yet also clean and polished. I really like it.
Lasts half the day a few inches off the skin, and turns all clothing to mossy nubuck hide for a week.

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A great tune by Moroccan artist Chawki-

Pure Poison

Mini bottle with white fade up to the black collar and purple lettering, casting iridescent shadows.

A jasmine bomb with a 2 mile blast radius.
Pull the candy orange peel pin and white flowers go nuclear, a dense gardenia fog with ambery woods fallout underneath, that flattens every other scent in the vicinity.

Brilliant and a little frightening.
Wear in winter with an open carry permit.

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Zoa Night Perfume

Marvelous swirling black bottle with frosted flower shaped cap–Regine’s classic bottle shape has a bit of a can-can dress vibe.

A fun and inexpensive vampy amber floral–
I love the big citrus champagne opening, fresh and flirty, though I wish it lasted longer before dissolving into the pink flowers. The vanilla at the bottom stays close to the skin for most of the day, with faint patchi amber an inch above.

There’s a joyful retro feel that makes me think of secondhand shoppes that cater to drag royalty and couture collectors, and sell Pop Rocks and Lemonhead candy at the register.

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This one was a hit in France in 2009, too.

Alien

Mini bottle with lines mimicking the iconic sixties extraterrestrial in a high collar cape, showing off Thierry Mugler’s design aesthetic of bold complementary colors–a bright purple glass with gold accents.

A deceptively simple blend of pretty and sexy.
The jasmine on top is almost sugary, as if there’s a bit of grape Kool-aid wisteria mixed in. The amber gives it an edge, both clarifying it and making it sexy, like water splashing on a white shirt to make it see through.
Lasts for days, with sweet woods on the clothes until a hot setting wash.

A small bottle is a safe blind-buy, though the large one is gorgeous.

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I’m still feeling the loss of Thierry Mugler.
His photography–that juxtaposed bright colors and played with architectural perspectives and environment–was amazing and ground breaking.

Galerie and British Vogue have some great features on his photos.

A few of Mugler’s photographs that I love.

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Okay, so Space Oddity might be the obvious choice for a write up on Alien, but Bowie’s Boys Keep Swinging is full of Mugler fashion goodness, so–

A*Men

Black A*Men sample spray on blue themed promo card featuring a flask with the Mugler iconic cut star.

Mint chocolate patchouli, camphor cool and creamy, with black coffee on the side.
Lasts an eternity.

Incredibly dynamic, constantly shifting from dark to bright, sugary to herbal, soft to sharp–and there’s something aggressive about the performance, the way it fills the room and takes up space. A*Men is definitely a manspreader, but gets away with it by being sweet and fun.

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“I think beauty is the human emotional vehicle between us and it’s very important.” – Manfred Thierry Mugler

The world has lost some sparkle today, and I imagine the angels and the aliens fighting for the honor of carrying him upward.

Mugler was an incredible fashion designer, responsible for so many history making outfits–Demi Moore’s Indecent Proposal dress, Kim Kardashian’s wet Met Gala number, David Bowie’s neon green suit, Cardi B’s Venus dress–and sooo many more, all bold, creative, sometimes divisive, and always attention getting, just like his perfumes.

He was a visionary and an activist, ignoring gender rules, racial bias and body shape stereotypes, making luxury fashion inclusive and exciting to all, and in the case of his fragrances, accessibly priced and environmentally conscious.

Rest in Parfum, sir, and thank you for all the beauty you have given us.

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George Micheal’s 1992 Too Funky video was set in a fictional Mugler runway show.

Perfect

Mini bottle with blue plastic bow on top and box with sketchy illustration of a banana on the side.

There’s something oddly coquettish about about this one, as if the perfume flirts with the wearer.

Opens with pink candy fruit and spring flowers (Do I get a whiff of banana or am I just looking for it because there’s one on the package?) that immediately settle to an inch above the skin, and stay there all day long, blanketed down by the softest wood musk–
–but in that intimate space, Perfect is an attention seeker.

I can only smell it when I lift my hands near my face–during a drink from a glass, resting my chin on my fist, smoothing my hair–but those moments are intensely sweet and distracting, a private tease with a wink and a smile, meant just for me.

The notes aren’t that special (seems like rhubarb and cashmeran are in everything right now) and a bit too girlish for me, but the performance is clever and fun.
I’d love to see more designers explore this topography.

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Duran Duran’s cover of Lou Reed’s classic is perfection.