Garofano

Vintage mini bottle with an orange bow-tie and a label illustrated with stylized carnations, and real pink edged white ones.

Garofano means carnation, and this little Italian beauty–first produced in 1930, and reissued for gift sets in 1970–is exactly that, but amplified.

Jasmine sparkles up the carnation’s already sweet and zingy opening, and then the heady middle is augmented by roses, making it even more rich. The bottom is the best part, with added cloves (wild carnations are called clove-pinks) and pepper bringing out the floral spice.

My schnozz is healing!
I get all the facets, even the base notes (which are spicy enough to be worn by even the most alpha gents)–they’re just at 50% volume, rather than full blast.
Right now, I get two hours from it, three inches off the wrist–but I’m sure the performance is at least double that.

One of my favorites from the Borsari 1870 collection.

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Oasis’ cover of The Jam’s Carnation jam.

Be Delicious Fresh Blossom

Chrome DKNY mini apple filled with pale pink eau.

“It gets better,” a teacher once told me, and I clung to those words even through college.

Fresh Blossom doesn’t.

Starts summer school with fruit flavored sanitizing cleanser and Pert shampoo. The roses soon call attendance, sharp and artificial on wire stems, loud enough to make one wince.
A few hours later, the florals settle to apple woods, a smear of Yankee Candle MacIntosh that stains the clothes.

This one gets a passing grade only for the longevity.

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Wussy’s cover of the Beatles needs more play–it’s got a great Cowboy Junkies hits The Runaways feel.

Fiori d’Amore

Bvlgari promo card embossed with Allegra glass candy motif, and pink rose taffy and red hard candy.

“A magnificent floral expressing the loving exaltation of receiving a giant bouquet of roses” is some of the silliest ad copy ever written.

So… Yay, roses!
Woody tea hybrids with what is supposed to be a fancy new raspberry accord but actually smells of salted lemons, in a fun tequila shots vibe.
The fruity notes sweeten up as it drifts down to the skin over an hour or two. Not a cheap date for the performance, but good on hot summer nights spent eating spicy food with the fingers.

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Here’s a smooth take on a St. Germain classic.

Yellow Diamond

Miniature Versace bottle with yellow cut gem cap, in front of a lemon, with scattered yellow wood sorrel blooms.

Lemon candy and wildflowers, but weirdly fragile and sharp at the same time.
Gets powdery on the drydown, sweet golden pollen with a bit of musk that drifts off the skin now and again–pretty, but itchy in the throat–for three hours.

Good for summer cocktail parties.
Wear with a sundress and sinus medication that doesn’t react with alcohol.

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This one is also fragile and pretty–

Black Tulip

Little Nest roll-on bottles, the one in front showing a black label illustrated with a burgundy parrot tulip displaying a yellow pistil.

High school fruit-chuli.

Opens with ice cream parlor raspberry syrup, that the Nest site describes as black plum and black cherry. A few florals giggle as they pass by, then the patchouli kicks in like teenager’s antiperspirant, warming and sweet, for several hours before fading to the skin.

My mother grew Queen Of The Night tulips–the original black ones. They smelled faintly of green grass and a bit of nutmeg.

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Mozart’s iconic Queen of the Night aria is actually titled “When Hell Boils In My Heart,” and commands her daughter to commit patricide or she’ll disown her. (My first stepmother sang this–go figure.)

Kelis samples the famous trills in Like You, (and Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins is amazing) but this electronica remix is fun.

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.

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

X For Women

Clive Christian tester packet on a china saucer. I’m not a fan of the cardboard “pull-and-press-here” samples–they’re one use only, usually tear, and dribble more than spray.

The smoothest peach smoothie that ever smoothed, sucked through a straw by Bettie Page. In full color.

Fruity, soft, creamy and boldly sexy–garnished with pale green jasmine that brings out the pineapple, for hours. Finishes with lovely sweet musk with a bit of smoke, pursed lips and a wink, erotic and flirtatious, yet genuine at the same time.

I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to Gucci Rush, and I definitely smell the resemblance. However, X strips out the plastics and reblends with powdery orris and labdanam, elevating the peach out of vinyl album cover and into burlesque editorial.

The over 50¢ a spray is rather cost prohibitive–Clive Christian can seem more interested in selling his own price tag than a good perfume–but X goes on like really fine lingerie, as much an indulgence for oneself as for anyone else, with banging projection that lasts for ages.

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The smoothest–

Ciel

Clear mini Amouage bottle with silver dome lid on the edge of a garden pot, and blue sky with wispy clouds behind.
Today will be lovely, the weather woman says.

Ciel seems to be trying to compose solar and aquatic vibes out of flowers–sun-showers, maybe?

Opens slightly spicy and green, and soon turns watery but oddly creamy, with a lot of jasmine.
Then the bottom makes it really weird, soapy woods-musk, with some Amouage brand incense muddled in, polluting the whole sky with floral acid rain.

I’ll stay inside.

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Here’s a gorgeous clear sky:

Orchid Bloom

Shanghai Tang mini bottle with gold ball cap and blue symbol, with strawberries and blueberries.

Fruity wine with floral musk underneath.
The berries open strong and fun, but the orchid is too sheer, like its made of silk and chemical dyes. The musk on the bottom is delicate but loud–a bit shrill, to me.

Shanghai Tang is an amazing fashion house out of Hong Kong, with cross-cultural designs that lean kitschy in the best way.
The founder, Sir David Tang, was a fascinating guy–he was a philanthropist, socialite, business magnate, English professor, and newspaper columnist. His granddaughter runs the company now.

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AGA is a Cantopop star from Hong Kong. This one is off her latest album So Called Love Songs.

Cashmere Mist

Curved, clear, cut crystal mini bottle that could possibly look like a flowing scarf?

Mid-nineties musk.
Opens with sneeze-worthy powdered nail polish remover and leather flip phone cases, then softens to vanilla SoBe soda on the skin.

Wear with a slip dress over a tight t-shirt, and ankle boots.

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Aaliyah’s debut album also came out in 1994–this was my favorite song.