Amazing Grace Bergamot

Squarish bottle with silver tall top cap filled with pale pink eau, and a label illustrated with flowers and lemons.

The Amazing Graces can be a bit shrill to me, but a friend recommended this one, so I had to stick my nose in it. Bergamot is smoother than the other flankers, more aromatic-container-garden than cut-flower-bouquet.

Soft citrus zest and pale orange flower with some cool lily-of-the-valley green, that warms up with a hint of sheer herbal rose (that might actually be geranium) then slides down to elusive musk.

Philosophy advertises this as an eau de toilette, but it performs more like a cologne splash, a refresher that stays close to the skin for a few hours.
Makes for a brilliant mask spritz.

(Thanks, Bethe!)

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The Bergamot is a husband wife duo with a fun positive vibe.

Incanto Dream

Pink Incanto Dream mini bottle, on a heap of clear Jolly Rancher candy with purple edged wrappers.

Pineapple Jolly Ranchers, and greasy on the skin.
Lasts two hours with no projection and stains the cuffs.

For a sweet fruity floral with a woodsy bottom, Angel Nova is a better investment, with four times the performance and six times the quality.

Or just eat the candy.

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Another dream. This one has angsty kissing with Scott Eastwood.

Coach Poppy

Coach Poppy mini with orange ribbon bow and ball cap, on a gold daisy.

The only poppy to be found here is a possible bit of peppery sandalwood that wishes it were bagel seeds.

Another ubiquitous accessory designer candy floral.
Safe for brunch with the girls on the way to the mall.

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This one keeps showing up on my suggestions-based-on-your-listening-tastes banner.

Gold Lily

Yellow daylily and mini gold ball capped Shangai Tang bottle with with ivory symbol for longevity.

Sheer lily, sweet floral with an undercurrent of earthy spice, held in place with light patchouli and some pale musk. At a distance the flowers are lovely, but an up-close sniff turns it into car air freshener for a while.
I like the coriander and clove drydown on the skin, after the synthetics fade.

The company has moved their fragrance production toward room scents and candles–I think that’s a good direction for them.

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I went down the Google-hole looking for current pop music in Shanghai right now, and fell hard for the modern-hits-traditional vibe of this one. (Google translates the title as “I walked through the lonely long river in Mobei and the sun sets,” but Encore lists it as Xiao – “Rivers and Lakes.”)

Xia Xiang

Vintage bottle of rose glass with pressed flower design, ribbed gold shaft cap with pink faux jewel on the tip.

Found this one in a vintage grab bag, with enough drops in the bottom to reminisce about the dorm-mate in college who stole my microwave popcorn, chewed tobacco and had really good taste in drugstore perfume.

Xia Xiang was an iconic late eighties Revlon, a sweet woodsy floral* with cringey marketing that embraced full-on exoticism of Chinese culture.
Good perfume, though–a pretty lemonade splash on a mixed bouquet of everything, with a long lasting spiced peaches and sandalwood base.

Go with Chloe Nomad for a modern take with a similar profile, or try Fragonard Belle de Nuit, with the same rose and ylang-ylang, and plum notes on the bottom.

*(Let’s get rid of the tone-deaf perfume label “oriental” while we’re at it, yeah?
It’s offensive and we don’t need it. We say more with words that describe the scent, than we do using an outdated geographical term that stinks of colonialism.)

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T’Pau’s big hit, China in Your Hand, came out in 1987, but the debut release from the same album is a much better song.

Journey Woman

Red faced gold Amouage mini bottle with domed cap, and apricots.

Opens with opulent spiced honey mead and elegant jasmine, then slices fresh apricots and sprinkles them with a bit of pollen dust.
But Journey isn’t delicate–there’s a solidity on the bottom, like sturdy hospital clogs, leather and wood and rubber soles–that keeps her from being frivolous.

The dichotomy reminds me of my grandmother, who loved rich and exotic things, but didn’t hesitate to tie on a smock when nurses aides were needed during the war.

Stays within personal space for most of the day, then fades to the skin with sweet tobacco musk for the evening.
I like it–though my wallet is a little too lighthearted for this kind of gravitas.

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Really feeling for healthcare workers right now. May their shoes never, never, never let them down.

Wander

Cute gold capped .25oz mini bottle, enameled with gray, white and green flowers.

This one is all about the bottle, which says Midnight Gardens & Wildflower right on it.
The ad copy talks about night-blooming jasmine, cypress and waterlily, adding up to a sweet wet flower mush that’s pleasant at a distance, and hits the back of the throat with a bit of algae pond funk up close.

Performs reasonably well with some nice “lake mermaid” vibes.
Not my thing–the Lollia line tends to be too soft for me–but the “Little Luxe” bottles are adorable and way too easy to collect.

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Here’s a soft wandering song.

Twilly d’Hermès Eau Ginger

Mini cube shaped bottle with white hat cap, and lumps of candied ginger.

The opening is wonderful–sweet crystalized ginger with a sharp bite–but then the tuberose wilts, and the peony turns antiseptic, drawing attention to unfortunate cedar leakage on the bottom, and I get uncomfortable nursing home neglect vibes.

I wanted to love this one–the original Twilly is enchanting for any age, young at heart and soul–but Eau Ginger has too little of that timeless magic, and makes me a little anxious.

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I went looking for the Natalie Merchant and REM cover of John Prine’s Hello in There, but then remembered how much I like this one.

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.

Lavenda Alpina

Tiny Borsari 1870 bottle with pine tree graphic label, and sprig of fresh lavender.

Lavender is distinct and multi faceted–a good one for testing the post-Covid nose.

The guy likes the soothing aspects–I put a drop of oil on his dryer sheets sometimes–to him it’s relaxing and clean.
I find it invigorating and spicy, a refreshing addition to lemon cookies and roasted potatoes.

First out in 1929, unisex Lavenda Alpina opens sharp, soapy with a vodka note, floral herbs with camphor, some alpine fir aromatics. I get all this, thank goodness, and from the source, too, when I rub the plant leaves.
The eau settles down quickly to the skin–but my sense of smell is definitely on the fritz, because I know this has better projection than what I’m getting right now–with sugary citrus and licorice feels. This is my favorite part of lavender fragrances, the bright sweet-savory-spicy heart, almost gourmand-ish. (What Would Love Do? by LUSH captures this gorgeously.)
Sadly, I get almost nothing of the base notes. There should be a bit of moss roughing up the bottom, and the soft woods–a bit resinous, like sweet balsam–that dried lavender flowers hold for years, are just not coming to me yet.

I’ll keep at it.

Lavender tips from my garden, cobalt bottle of essential oil, and a dried herb wand with purple ribbon, handmade by a friend using plants from a local pick-your-own farm.

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I love this little-known Kinks tune, a bonus track on an album remaster.