Kyoto

A plate of whole canned beets and sample spray sitting in vermilion liquid, a pink rose, and a Diptyque box in the background.

Opens with nice earthy vodka that definitely makes one think of root vegetables, but then it warms up and the roses bloom on woody stems–sweet, pretty, and strange, with a hint of smoke in the distance.

Intriguingly genderless.
In the daytime it’s cheerful–sun on fresh turned soil and trained florid roses. At night it seems Gothic–a vampire graveyard, and coolly seductive.
Lasts four hours or so in personal space, with faint trails on cuffs.
I like it very much.

(I have no idea what beetroot has to do with Kyoto, but I’ve never been.)

*

The Cure’s Kyoto Song probably has as much authentic ties to Japan as this scent, but it has some of the same dark emo vibes.

Fanghorn

Pineward sample vial and paper test cutout of Fanghorn bottle, burlap pouch and a taxus tip with green needles.

Nice.
Fanghorn is a bit brighter than Murkwood and less sweet, with an earthy forest floor petrichor replacing the myrrh and incense.
Realistic pine in a summer rainstorm for an hour, then green lichen on the skin for the rest of the day.
Semi-permanent on cotton, with the wet fir opening.

Leans to unisex trees with rough bark.

*

More Tolkien inspired art:

Seaberry & Rose Clay

White capped roller stick, clear with red detail and a whale logo.

I’m so disappointed.
Sea-buckthorn, sanddorn (Swedish), argousier (French), or seaberry, is a creamy lemony pungent berry, close to a cranberry in texture and tartness.

The Old Whaling Co.’s version–a kid’s Body Shop strawberry and raspberry jam mashed with chalk and rose–was named by someone who has never touched, seen, eaten, or smelled a real seaberry.

Their Mariner’s Moon candle sounds nice.

*

Shanty-Tok was a wave of communal Covid-19 art, when musicians discovered the looping possibilities of the TikTok social media app, and combined it with sea shanty folk songs.
The Wellerman was the best, started by Nathan Evans.

Dream

Lollia “Little Luxe” bottle (I love them all so much) with gold letters and blue back design and gold cap, and a bit of florist purple fluff.

Slightly threatening cellophane packing tape.

The (very cute) bottle says White Tea and Honeysuckle right on it–but that’s been taken to the post office and shipped far, far away, leaving nothing but adhesive esters and nervous tension.

*

One out of five American adults deal with anxiety issues, and those rates are even higher for teens–

Catharsis

Palm reading sticker and sample card with arcane eye motif, and spray.

Garage metal shop–pleasantly sour earthy concrete, metallic dust with the smoke of flash sparks from a grinder, tools with wood handles that warm up with use–and spiced gumdrops.

Nice. Leans to the calloused fingertips end of unisex.
Lasts longer and louder on clothes than on skin, and makes one nostalgic for clove cigarettes.

*

Another metal catharsis.

Marine Sel

Glass pot of solid perfume with a gold lid, and box illustrated with 1920’s drawing of swimming gentlemen.

TokyoMilk #54

Margot Elena lists notes of mineral salts, fresh water, turned earth, and white woods–which adds up somehow to sweet seaweed.

Opens with an aquatic fruity green note that stays wet for an hour before sinking into the skin with a faint wave of salty driftwood.
The solid is sheer, without much projection, but this is one I wouldn’t want to douse myself with–I think it could easily turn brackish and swampy.

Simple, amiable and unisex.
Good for reminiscing about seaside vacations, but collectors’ prices seem high for those memories.

*

Lampblack

Lampblack bottle test strip and decant vial, and a grapefruit.

This smells like a flirtation at the race track on a sunny day–with a tumbler full of Gin & Juice on the side.

Delightfully bitter citrus, and ebony black oily resins–new tires and gear oil and leather and asphalt, all inky surfaces that get a touch of sweetness as they heat up–that stay close to the skin for the afternoon.

It’s weird but fun, and I really like the dichotomy of it.
Minerals gone organic and wild and dark, but bright and warm at the same time, and strangely inviting.

Leans masculine, but I’d wear it on high heel boot days–definitely on the Want-a-Full-Bottle list, and now I’m curious about the rest of the line.

*

One part Beefeater’s gin, three parts Ruby Red grapefruit juice. Pour over good ice and garnish with lime.

Winter Oak

Sample spray and ad with righteously pouting blonde who should be allowed to wear more clothes when it’s that cold.

The ad copy says “smooth creamy warming” but I get “edge of the forest hermit.”

The first spray is a burst of sour citrus and vegetables with herbs, in a messy sun-drenched garden way, then everything gets spicy, woody cloves and earthy peppercorns for an hour on the skin.
The end is a slow fade of soft with smoky firewood that’s still a bit too green to burn.

I’d really enjoy this on a guy, which is funny, because the guy said he’d enjoy it on me.

*

Winter came back yesterday, for one last kiss.

La Fin Du Monde

Etat Libre d’Orange paper test of bottle (with orange radioactive symbol label) sample spray and box, and seasoned popcorn.

The End of the World definitely starts with a bang.

Opens noisy, an explosion of salt and pepper popcorn that leaves one thirsty, then the minerals seep in, metal smoke and charred woods, and concrete rubble. The fallout stays dominant on clothing, but after an hour or two flowers grow on the skin, powdery with a bit of ash, soft and strange.

Weirdly violent, in a post-apocalyptic movie way, and hopefully not prophetic.

*

This is easily the best song on Achtung Baby.

Rose of No Man’s Land

Velvet rose with paper test of Byredo bottle, and decant vial.

The ad copy for Rose of No Man’s Land lists rose, pink pepper, raspberry blossom, papyrus and white amber.
I can pick out those notes, but all together it smells like the green-room at a drag show.

Ms Turkisha Petals camps out at the snack table–salty corn chips and berry ginger-ale–until Rose d’Red threatens her wig with pepper spray. Eventually Amber Oralgami sashays in after her paper dolls routine, to collapse on the sofa for a few hours.

Statuesque, sweet and savory, and a little chaotic in the best way.

*

Annie Lennox’s ironic hit is a drag show regular.