Sencha Bleu

Rectangular bottle with gold cap and double sided label printed with songbirds.

TokyoMilk #57 lists Hyacinth, Iris, Citrus Zest and Crisp Greens on the bottle, and there’s no false advertising there, aside from the “blue.”

This is a green scent, and cheerful.

A splash of green leaves, almost bamboo sweet, with a tiny hit of bergamot rind, and hyacinth–which comes across rather lilac–and a faint smear of petroleum jelly. Lasts an hour with six-foot sillage, then fades to the skin with a light summery-lawn musk.

Good for socially distant outdoor concerts.

*

A pretty summer song. Not the best recording, but I like it.

Pink Sugar

Fuchsia capped rollerball bottle on mound of turbinado sugar. The eau de toilette is quite viscous, as syrupy as honey.

One of everything in a pay-by-the-pound candy store stuffed into a bottle.

Aquolina’s best seller is one of the most accessible gourmand fragrances out there.
Cheap and available, and marketed with childish sweet-shoppe vibes, Pink Sugar is the Candy Crush Saga of perfumes.

And I’ve finally recovered from my daughter’s teenage obsession with Bath & Body Works’ Warm Vanilla Sugar, (the only way to exorcise that stuff from the house is to paint the walls–seriously, there isn’t enough sage in the world) to sniff this without instinctively reaching for aspirin.

Opens with screaming marshmallows and raspberry gum-drops and orange Pixy-Stix, loud as elementary school recess. The rush soon melts into huge clouds of cotton candy nicely dirtied up with a little licorice. A bit more grown up, a little flirty, red heart-shaped lolly-pops get passed like notes in the cafeteria.
At the bottom is caramel, with just enough musk to keep it from being completely cloying, chewy vanilla that lasts all day and sticks to clothes like toffee.

And yes, the stuff is mind-numbingly sweet, but it’s also fun, and I can see why so many bottles peek out of the purses of grown women, too.

*

I saw her in concert when I was 14. She was amazing.

Belle

Tocca mini cruets and sample spray with pink and gold card.

Uninspired pink lemonade and pale florals (that try really hard to be roses and lily of the valley) at first, but soon turns into a nice citrus musk with a cool metallic edge–a bit like Nestea iced tea in a can.

Young and safe–a good first date scent.
Stays in personal space for an hour, then drifts down to the skin over the next two. Gone by curfew.

*

This update of Anita Ward’s disco hit is NOT appropriate for a first date.

Punk Motel

Coreterno sample card and spray, with some artsy marketing swag featuring Baroque boys in tights.

One to wear with ratty Converse All Stars, sucking down an Orange Julius–while you’re shopping at Tiffany’s.
Like there’s a comfortable I-don’t-give-two-shits vibe, but it’s really high end.

Marshmallow citrus at the start, a bit of rose meringue in the middle, creamy vanilla and salty musk at the base. Rather than being sticky, the sugar is airy and light, yet also very rich.

Stays inside the clothes for half the day, and leaves a faint sweet funk on the cuffs ’til evening.
If I could actually afford to shop at Tiffany’s, I’d bathe in the stuff.

*

Best Stooges cover ever–

Illicit Flower

Mini Illicit Flower–a cut glass barrel bottle with a modern ice castle vibe–and mandarin oranges.

I’d call this one Illicit Citrus, but it’s actually quite safe and polite.

Starts with orange juice and orange blossomy rose that stays inside personal space for an hour, then eases to sheer jasmine musk with some sweet woods until noon.

Pleasant, but very little allure. A good one for a gift exchange–the bottle is lovely.

*

This song is so pretty and strange–and weirdly apropos. We enjoy sweet scents meant to inspire hunger, yet so much of fashion is biased to the dangerously thin.

Noa

Cacharel’s iconic peach shaped bottle with cape collar–the mini doesn’t have the little pearl inside–sitting in a mortar and pestle filled with coriander seeds.

What a fun little coffee-on-the-terrace scent!

Opens with some late 90’s fruity flower goodness, then warms up with espresso and coriander–the seeds, not the cilantro leaf, after the plant has bolted and the flower pods are ripening in the sun–warm and sweet and spicy.

The powdery musk in the center is soft and ageless and perfect for morning.

Doesn’t last terribly long, but it’s not pricey, so have another cuppa.

*

This is song is full of good post-quarantine vibes.

Destiny

TokyoMilk rollerball and magenta capped black packaging, on chunks of crystalized ginger.

TokyoMilk #79

Destiny is that marvelous obnoxious friend who’s a blast to hang with, but would wear you out if it were an everyday thing.

Rolls on in with sugary ginger and wild berries, in a heavy-handed but good way, then develops some nice nasty indolic tendencies.
A pleasant bitter-sweetness that might be the davana paired with honeysuckle interrupts for a few hours at arm’s length, then slowly settles down to creamy cuddly jasmine for the rest of the day.

Lots of fun, but for occasional use only.
(Can be hard to find. Snag a bottle if you see it at a price you can afford–I’ve see them as low as $12 used and $60 new.)

*

I would totally hang out with Lizzo EVERY day.

Shalimar Souffle

Large navy blue bottle with classic Guerlain amphora shape, with mauve evening clouds behind.

There’s a very fun generational skip with Shalimar Souffle–a fresh take on bygone fashion–that reminds me of the ultra-feminine girls who wear ’50’s pinup dresses in modern prints at the car shows.

This “Breath of Perfume” opens with lovely light citrus and jasmine, that soon gets interrupted by a peppery note that feels discordant–like it’s my skin, somehow, that is objectionable–but does fade in a few hours, leaving behind rich vanilla cake with lemon icing for the rest of the day.

Retro yet fresh at the same time, but weird on me. (One often sees “It doesn’t work with my body’s chemistry,” in reviews, but I rather feel that with this one I’m the one at fault.)
I gifted my big bottle, but kept the mini. Maybe I’ll improve with age.

*

Imelda May is the epitome of retro and fresh.