Rose Incense

Sample spray and promo card, with desiccated roses and incense in a green ceramic holder.

Amouage’s take on Citizen Kane opens with sharp resins with melancholy undertones, then shifts to burning dried rosebuds (see what they did there?) and more aged frankincense.

Sadly, these heart notes leave one wanting more–the myrrh plot twist is so well known that there’s no surprise of cleverness to the sandalwood at the end–and the fleeting sweetness of vanilla at the bottom gives only the sense that love was never found.

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The Union Forever” is The White Stripes’ take on the same movie, but “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known” is my favorite song on that album at the moment. Here’s a live version-

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–

La Belle et l’Ocelot

Tall rectangular frosted bottle, a striding wildcat (with magnificent whiskers) in clear bas-relief, with faceted cap and gold signature.

Fruity at first, an hour long, and loud, citrus and plummy osmanthus sharpened with witchy rose thorns. Slowly softens with jasmine and some smoky-sweet amber into personal space–up close it’s bright on cotton cuffs and syrupy on the skin–and lasts all day, fading to a dab of luxe benzoin on the wrist.

La Belle et l’Ocelot could almost be a Chanel, rich incense resins and balsamic roses (though there’s oddly no civet) if the wormwood at the top didn’t turn it weird.

I don’t love it–I’d prefer more purring and fewer claws–but there’s something intriguing about it, opulent yet off-kilter, and the bottle is an objet d’art.

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Salvador Dali’s pet ocelot was named Babou. He never seemed happy in photos, aside from the one where he is biting the artist’s nose.

XII: L’Heure Mysterieuse

Cartier Red and gold box and sample vial, on an antique clock face reading 12:41.

L’Heure Mysterieuse has a lot of ties to LUSH Lord of Misrule, but where LoM measures time on standing stones, XII is a church clock-tower.

First strikes with dry spice and jasmine–peppery sharp, then resin and incense waft in, with a fifteen minute chocolate and cigarette break.
At the half hour patchouli chimes loud, taking over, only occasionally letting a few seconds of vanilla slip by.

Lasts the day at social distance with woody amber, brassy and stern.

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Zahira

Topaz yellow tipped ebony vial–representing a jeweler’s dop stick for polishing gems, a nice bit of Bvlgari branding–in a tall shot glass because it also looks a lot like a bartender’s swizzle stick.

A queen bee perfume, and heaven help the poor drones.

First flight is spice and sweetness, then she melts into syrupy amber–soft at social distance, but full of invitation into personal space where the cinnamon is buzzy and warm.

An hour in the ylang-ylang softens, and fruit notes begin to slide in and out of the benzoin, wildflower honey with alluring facets of lemon and apple and apricot for the rest of the day.

Zahira is perfect for autumn, with spicy warmth that’s too delicate for the summer sun. A bit expensive, but a lovely indulgence when one needs some royal treatment.

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Another beckoning Jem.

Incanto Shine

Pale purple purse(?) shaped mini mini bottle embossed with dragonfly motif, and a peach slice.

Synthetic tropical fruits that last most of the bus ride to school, then settle down to curried peaches and pencil shavings on the skin until second period.

Most junior high kids have much better taste than this–get them any Moschino for the same price, instead.

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Better synthetic Peaches:

Youth Dew Amber Nude

Half full ribbed hourglass bottle with tall gold cap and brown grosgrain ribbon belt, with cinnamon sticks and an orange carnation.

(There’s something deliciously ghoulish about buying perfume from an estate sale. You know that bottle is haunted, but you take it home anyway.)

Tom Ford’s remix of Estée Lauder’s classic Youth Dew smells exactly the way Swedish Julmust tastes, only sexier.

For those who’ve never been to Sweden in December, Julmust is a sweet spiced cola made with ginger and citrus and other secret ingredients, and is the only non-alcoholic drink you’re allowed at Christmas.

Amber Nude starts with an effervescent pop of candied grapefruit peel, ginger and cinnamon, then mixes in carnation sweetened with jasmine and ylang-ylang, which turns into clove spice-drops that melt in personal space all evening long. Spun sugar amber and warm woods linger on clothes forever afterward.

Brilliant for holiday parties with low cleavage dresses.
(Cheers to you, dead lady with good taste in minimalist furniture and sexy perfume. I bet you were fun.)
Skål.

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Cheryl Wheeler is a brilliant folksinger and songwriter whose tunes have been covered by Bette Midler, Garth Brooks, and many others.

8e Jour

Amber frosted mini bottle with cobalt stopper on ecru upholstery.

“Eighth Day” seems rather dated at first–big myrrh out of the bottle with apple cider spices, and some sandalwood and rose–like she’s stuck in a1990’s soundtrack.
But as it settles to the skin, the mix-tape gets sweet with honey, and there are some good tunes in there, ylang-ylang with some long lasting vanilla that is too good to go out of style.

Nice for autumn, and an easy one to find, if you’re into retro vintages and cinnamon.
My mini seems to have aged well–no “off” notes and the juice juice is still clear–possibly because the stopper is ridiculously tight. The cap went flying when I finally got it out, and I splashed quite a bit on my couch.
So I can confirm that this does, in fact, linger for eight days.

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8e Jour came out in 1993, along with this classic.

Myrrh & Kumquat

Large cut crystal splash bottle with gray and gold label, and box with drawing of a kumquat branch.

Myrrh & Kumquat is marketed as being “harmonizing,” but it’s the first 4711 Acqua Colonia I’ve sniffed that gets flirtatious.

Opens with a sour candy citrus zing, then melts down into very personal space with sugary balsamic come-hither glances, for thirty minutes.
Lingers with caramel sweet spice on the skin for another hour.

Unisex, unexpected, and marvelous. A good one for a spontaneous lunch date.

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Another Myrrh.
The Church has been around for forty years–this is an early one.