Mitsouko Eau de Toilette

Mini scrolled bottle of Mitsouko Eau de Toilette at the center of a crimson firework Gerbera daisy.

1919.
House of Guerlain, Paris France.
Nobody:
Jacques: Here’s gunpowder and blood, coffin-woods and grave-moss, because War.
Nobody: (blinks)
Jacques: And some peaches and jasmine so it’s pretty.

Wow. Guerlain’s iconic Mitsouko is goth as Hell.
Opens with the sharp tang of citrus and peaches–bright coins to pay the ferryman–but made sanguine with roses. Funeral flowers bloom, more roses and lilac and jasmine, and slowly dry to cedar box dust. At the end, embalming spices rise from the skin, and ash smoke–the powdery residue of battle–until they fade to moss and lichen on headstones.

For elegant widows, death obsessed poets and wannbe undertakers.

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This cheerful little tune is surprisingly dark–John Cale’s classic made modern by Owen Pallett.

Dolly

Black and white photo of Dolly Parton on a blush sample card with her butterfly signature, and a spray vial.

Dolly Parton’s new perfume is a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee in a bottle.

Opens with the strawberries-and-cream saltwater taffy from Old Smoky Candy Kitchen–soft fruity pink and gooey sweet–and lasts as long as one takes to melt in the mouth.
The middle is pure Dollywood, rhinestone musk and jasmine encore bouquets, synthetic but charming, though nowhere near as loud.
Finishes with a lingering view of the mountains, green forest woods and a hint of pine.

Oddly, Dolly is a bit shy, staying in personal space and fading quickly to the skin. I’d expect this brief a performance from a cologne, not a celebrity eau de parfum, but her short songs are good, too.

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This remix takes Dolly out of the mountains and into the club, with Junior Vasquez mixing Ladysmith Black Mambazo into the beats to raise the sun.

Be Delicious Paris

Mini blue liquid filled DKNY chrome apple dwarfed by a Pink Lady apple, and violet blue flowers.

The final flanker from the DKNY Hearts the World set, and the best of the lot.

This time our girl is drinking wine at the nearest bar after French Club let out and enjoying a menthol cigarette. The usual green apple has turned to chardonnay, the flowers-for-teacher left in the classroom, the sandalwood burnt to patchouli ash.

Lasts a few hours in personal space–then the dry-down turns surprisingly rich and masculine on the skin for a few hours more, a rough vanilla cologne vibe that elevates Paris way above the other cities in this line.
Definitely one to snag at TJMaxx.

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This sweet little song goes to Paris, Texas.

Boreal

A sample vial of green liquid, with pine branch tips and a paper tester of a Pinewood apothecary bottle.

Boreal opens with a mix of things I find comforting in the winter–gingerbread, Tiger Balm, cedar bark, and pine needles–a lot of the Santa’s Workshop vibe of Guerlain’s Winter Delice, and I’d enjoy it on woodsman types a lot.
But the greenery dies down to faint resins on the skin in less than 2 hours, and I want more. The mossy notes do perform a bit better on cotton.

I bet it would be amazing in a beard oil.

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This is a good pine.

Cool Water

Teal blue mini bottle of Cool Water in the icicles of my arborvitae.

Alpha evergreen rosemary and rain on top, Ray-Ban Wayfarers and herbal musk on the bottom.

Clean, mild at a distance and brash up close, Cool Water rejoices in its chemicals–the polymer sheen of a new laserdisc, NutraSweet powder, the antiseptic wetness of lubed condoms–with the late eighties zeal for cheap innovation and mass appeal.

I swiped a bottle from a pretty college boy thirty years ago (he took my Sandman comics, so I don’t feel guilty about it) and still wear it with pegged jeans and a skinny tie on soft butch days.

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I wore this cassette tape out in my Walkman–another sweet and synth number from 1988.

Purplelips

Purple mini bottle with a stack of lips à la Han-Solo-in-carbonite, on a detail of The Temptation of St. Anthony.

I love a good pun.
These Purple Lips open with juicy blueberries that would stain the teeth, and linger on violet and lilac flower candy that dye the tongue. Sheer woody musk on bottom keeps it in personal space for half the day.

But one could easily find this scent–though maybe not as cool a bottle–in a fast fashion chain for teens. I want more from the house of Salvador Dali.
Give me chessboards on the ocean floor. Give me ship sails made of butterflies.

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The Cocteau Twins kept it surreal.

Omnia Golden Citrine

Mini Omnia chain link bottle in chrome and bright yellow.

Citrine starts with the transparent juice from canned peaches and mandarin slices, in a nice morning cocktail way, but then fades to powdery yellow flower pollen.

Benzoin at the bottom gets sticky and brings back some of the opening citrus, with the clear syrup from candied peel that bakers use–and I so wish this moment was longer and louder, there’s almost a Shalimar vibe for a second–but everything soon dries down to the Omnia sheer woods base.

Cotton holds the jasmine well, but on skin it’s all gone by noon.
I’ll try it again in the summer. Maybe I’ll like it more.

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Midnight Pearl

Discovery set sample with ad of a vampy-eyed model clutching a string of beads in a pool.

The description is “sultry and floral” with their signature essence of South Sea pearls. (I’m still confused by this. Do they use oyster juice, like that nasty clam stuff in a Bloody Caesar?)

Opens with an oceanic inky floral that is a bit Squid-ish, though not as weirdly wonderful. (Margot Elena’s 20,000 Flowers was a bit like this too, only with ylang-ylang instead of frangipani.)

Wades in a foot off the skin with sweet florals for a couple hours, but eventually dries down to some light woody spice–that I would really enjoy on a guy, maybe the bitcoin beach bum type who throws great parties.

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Emoni Bali is so fun.

Mystic Pearl

Sample spray and ad of a blonde gazing into the distance with parted lips and a string of beads wrapped around her middle finger.

A “fresh luminous floral inspired by Bali… using the scent of real pearls.”
(Do they grind them up, or somehow distill them? I feel like the liquid should have a paillette effect, or some shimmery nacre going on in the bottle.)

Mystic Pearl opens with a fresh vodka note that turns oceanic, then some jasmine and coconut. Sadly, I get none of the spices listed, which might have given this more backbone and lasting power. Disappears into the skin in under an hour, though lasts half the day on cotton.

(My pearls first belonged to my grandmother–they still smell like Charles of the Ritz.)

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This funky number is also inspired by Bali–with a lot more spice.

Fragile

Snow globe with gold glitter liquid and a black figure with Jean-Paul Gaultier’s iconic corseted silhouette.

There are few times I would ever recommend anyone not snatching up an adorable miniature vintage bottle from a brilliant costume and fashion designer, filled with tuberose and sweet smoky spice mixed by Francis Kurkdjian himself, that lasts at the most delicate arm’s length forever–

–but this mini Fragile is a pain in the ass.
The press-on tab lid on the bottom leaks, because gravity. The gold detail on the bottle on the bottle decomposes with alcohol, and since perfumer’s spirits are usually 190 proof, that happens quick. And the mouth, one of those irritating single drop orifices (orifii?) that essential oil bottles have, gets clogged up with glitter particles and has to be cleaned out with a pin.

So don’t.
Walk on by.
Keep scrolling.

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I do love me some Gaultier. His costumes in Fifth Element were amazing.