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.

Bad Boy

Promo card with a black and gold lightning bolt shaped bottle, and a sample spray.

This “bad boy” just earned a week of detention when he got caught with a blunt at his all-boys private school, along with Axe Dark Temptation and Invictus Victory. He’s got good taste in chocolate, and misses his mom.

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(It’s a shame that The Inner Circle’s Bad Boys is indelibly linked to the show Cops, because it’s a good song.) Here’s a Scandi EDM duo

Tubereuse Indiana

Creed sample card with splash vial, featuring portraits of the company founder (James Creed, 1760) and the designer of Tubereuse Indiana (Oliver Creed, 1980.)

Hmmm.
Well…

I get a fair bit of lily-of-the-valley, and maybe some gardenia, but not a lot of tuberose. Or vanilla.
Some ambergris rises from the skin about an hour in, but it’s got a cigarette ash aftertaste that seems dated.

The whole thing feels like it’s trying to have vibes of the action TV shoes in the late 60’s–The Mod Squad, and The Avengers, even Batman, all with slick sexy fashions contrasted with dangerous underworlds–but misses the mark (and doesn’t seem to go anywhere near India.)

For a good Indian tuberose with a kiss of vanilla, a bottle of Sikkim Girls and a mortgage payment can be had for the same price.

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Diana Rigg lived in Rajasthan when she was young, and spoke Hindi.
Cool lady. Smoked a lot.

Lui

Guerlain long glass sample phial with pink eau, on black box embossed with gold foil sun face.

Big boss benzoin that morphs into cuddly cloves, and swanky.

Splashes on with spiced sipping vodka and a squeal of brand new tires, (I should probably spell it tyres, because these are definitely fancy imports) and cracks a leather licorice whip at everyone for a while.
Then it relaxes, and slowly settles just above the skin with soft smoky vanilla powder–rich sweet incense ash–and whispers complements all day long.

I’m crushing hard on this one.
Very unisex, but wouldn’t be offended by the assumption of male pronouns.

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This grunge oldie is smoky and sweet, with a nice aggressive edge.