Belle de Nuit

belle de nuitMidnight Fantasy and Tea Rose meet for a tryst in a hedge maze, saying, “J’adore!” while Lou Lou watches with Envy.

Plums are tasted, roses are plucked.
Night flowers bloom, then fade after a few hours, leaving a long trail of powdery musk behind.
No one speaks of it in the daytime.

It’s gorgeous and delicate, yet a bit naughty.


2001 also saw the release of one of my very favorite French movies.

Black Orchid

Black orchidChocolate covered mushrooms.
Tom Ford’s biggest is actually an olfactory pun on truffles!
The bottle is even textured like gills.

Opens sweet and dirty and loud, earthy cocoa and umami fungus that grows on your skin and your clothes and the walls of your dining room.
They slowly warp into wet white flowers and syrupy fruit, in a change of dinner courses that doesn’t take the old plates away, a trencher of watermelon garnished with petals and patchouli.
Afterwards vanilla beans, smoked like cigars.

Very sexy, in a you-make-me-hungry way, but don’t wear it if you’re dieting.


So many ‘shroomy covers of this song. I’m stuck on this awesome Arabic one right now.

Acqua di Colonia Calicantus

CalicantusSanta Maria Novella’s site calls Calicantus “a bouquet of fruity floral notes,” which makes it sound like every Victoria’s Secret bottle in the last two decades, and this is quite special.

It’s marketed to women, but has terrific bay notes usually found in seventies aftershaves, and I’d enjoy huffing it on a guy, too.

calicantus labelOpens soapy clean, with citrus blossoms that soon settle into calycanthus flowers–with the sweet clove/anise of carnation, but with a little more nectar on top, and the earthier base of honey on the bottom–and some woody support.
The dry down is quick yet unexpectedly sweet, the fruity notes in the description–peachy with an almond/sour cherry bite and a drop of amber.
Lasts on silk forever.


Calicantus came out in Florence in 1999, when Anna Oxo hit it big with Senza Pietà–Without Mercy.

Lady Stetson

lady stetson edgySweet soapy sandalwood and senior English Lit class, prom carnations and packed bleacher musk.
I wore this at seventeen, with pleated stonewashed jeans and my grandfather’s Stetson Stratoliner à la Molly Ringwald.
Three decades later and it still holds up, an affordable and cheerful Chanel knock-off with riper peaches at the end.


This debuted in 1986, along with Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. and we all swooned over the album cover. Here’s a gorgeous version of my favorite Dwight Yoakam song.

Azzaro 9

azzaro 9A messy bouquet of flowers, the kind you’d hand pick as a child and bring home to your mum. Wildflowers crowd in with lilies, spills of wisteria, a stray carnation, a random rose from the neighbor’s yard, yet vague–no single bloom stands out as the star.
Awkwardly maternal, in a “Very nice, dear,” kind of way.


Another awkwardly maternal one that came out in 1984. I remember desperately wanting that silver and black dress.

Minuit Noir

LL licoriceSweet and evil.
Lolita Lempicka Minuit Noir will always be my witching hour perfume–my house reeks of it on Halloween.

Sugar spells and dark iris magic, wicked candy licorice and violet patchouli brew.
It’s nicely powdery, keeping the juice intriguing–fey dust rather than cloying syrup.

Lasts all Samhain and charms sleeves for days after.