Jasmins Marzipane

Sample spray of pale pink eau, on promo card featuring bottles from the Maison Lancome collection.

This is so marvelously intriguing–a simple white floral that’s really a James Bond femme fatale in disguise.
Comes in with a big hello of jasmine to the entire room, begging questions at social distance–Is that violet? patchouli? heliotrope? cigarette ash?–then winks with a smirk, because no, they’re actually almonds and cashmere musk being clever.
Vanilla and sandalwood leave long trails in personal space like theme songs that get stuck in the head for hours and hours.

Bold and smart, and not as sweet as first impressions might give.


A 007 twist that makes Katy Perry’s classic intriguing again–(I adore PMJ.)

Aqua Allegoria Passiflora

A gold topped beehive mini bottle with pale pink eau on a white box with magenta accents.

A tropical fruit freshie that disappears from the skin in 30 minutes, leaving a sour baby-spit-up stain on clothes.
I get none of the promised ylang-ylang or crystalline lagoon waters, and I’m rather annoyed about the whole experience.

The brand website irritated me even more, with its suggestions for layering this scent with others in the latest collection.
At $140 a bottle, we’re paying you to properly blend the fragrance, Guerlain.


A good bad mood song.
(The whole album is awesome.)


White cat with a pink nose sniffing a crystal mini bottle with quilt lines cut into the sides. There’s a hint of cassis-catness in Untold, so use a light touch.

A wealthy aunt perfume. She spends more on handbags than her nieblings pay for tuition, but she gives cool birthday gifts and is the first one they come out to.

Cut glass pears and white flowers, with a sprinkle of ground pepper. Ends on folding money musk and soft patchouli.
Not bad.


Woke up with this stuck in my head this morning–it’s raining, too warm for December but I’m not complaining.

Radiant Gem

Canister featuring a fern and uncut crystals and schematics for gem facets, and gold capped bottle–sometimes the lids can be a bit tight.

TokyoMilk #76 lists lemon balm (I might get this at the beginning, with some pine needles) amber, daphne and musk (which I don’t suss out at all.)
I mostly get sweet licorice, Lily-of-the-Valley, and a bit of earthy rubber, in a pleasant haze a few inches above the skin.

Off-beat, non-invasive, with very collectible packaging. Another on-brand issue from Margot Elena that would make a safe gift for anyone who would enjoy an herbal floral.

(For more of a sheer jewel vibe, check out any of Bvlgari’s Omnia line–Paraiba is very faceted.)


This Jem sparkles from Wales-


Tall bottle capped with plastic pink chrome hearts, with fuchsia box.

Gotta luv White Elephant gift exchanges.
I traded fuzzy socks for this.

Safe for tweens–a tropical peony that fades to a drip of melted mango mochi on the school uniform–with a performance modest enough for the strictest parental approval.

My feet are sad.


XOXO is an American fast fashion brand owned by the umbrella company Kellwood out of Hong Kong (that also owns Baby Phat and Rebecca Taylor.)

Another teenage XOXO–Canadian-Korean artist Jeon Somi put this album out this year.

99 Regent Street

Sample dabber and beige Hugh Parsons box, with crest featuring green oak leaves on white and a helmet head topped by a unicorn and so on. The London company was established in 1925 and has nothing to do with the Hugh Parsons of Springfield, Massachusetts, who was acquitted of witchcraft in 1651. (His wife wasn’t so lucky.)

This would be a reasonably refreshing powdery Dude-Bro fragrance if the ball-peen hammer of musk didn’t hit the center of the forehead quite so hard.

Recommended for outdoor use only.


This hammer is much better.

Incanto Bloom

Mini handbag shaped pink flask and gold and red floribunda tea rose.

Honestly, I’m only writing this one up because it’s the last in the gift set and I need closure.
And the photo turned out cute and I have some time to kill while waiting to get my COVID-19 booster vax.

Incanto Bloom might be the most heinous of the collection.
(No, lady giving me the stink-eye for sneezing, I’m not contagious.)

So this mess goes on with grapefruit rind and curried sawdust, then delivers a bouquet of artificial roses before dying a sad musky death. Luckily, it doesn’t last long.

The disconnect between Ferragamo’s clothing and footwear design standards (their boots are marvelous) and this entire Incanto line of fragrances is hard to understand. The house knows what quality is, they’ve just chosen not to produce it.

(Get your booster shot, yeah? This crap isn’t over yet.)


Maroon 5’s hit came out in 2010 too–doesn’t last long either, but it’s more fun.

Gucci Guilty

Gold Gucci Guilty mini bottle with mirrored G motif, sitting on some lackluster peaches.

Muted peaches.

Lemon flavored window cleaner and Lipton peach tea powder out of the bottle, that turns to plain non-dairy creamer while the lilacs bloom, milky and warm in personal space, but a little dull.
The bottom is safe patchouli amber just above the skin for half the day.

There’s something oddly repressed about the whole mixture–like the fruit notes want to bump-n-grind but they’re stuck in a demure floral dress–that feels dated.
(I don’t think Guilty has been allowed anything fun to feel guilty about.)


Even Rachel Wood was the face of the Guilty campaign–she sang this in Across the Universe–but Siouxsie did it best.


Mini silver cloche style bottle of purple eau and silver and purple box with an orchid on it.

Cheap, and smells it–thin watery flowers that turn pale violet, then get sad and cloying with generic musk and vanilla.
If this were a costume it would be a Disney knockoff from the Dollar $tore with a vinyl cape and hard plastic mask.

A scent named after the best holiday ever should be exciting and mysterious. Maybe a little weird, a bit earthy, or candy sweet and spicy.
And it doesn’t have to be expensive–Lolita Lempicka is perfect for the occasion (with much better violet vanilla musk), Coriandre is a brilliant witchy scent, Dead Sexy is spooky fun–or get creative and give that adorable homemade Snow White a dab of apple candy flavoring oil on her cuffs.

Stay safe, and have fun.


One of my seasonal favorites:

Sonoran Bloom

Canister and gold capped bottle featuring a red and fuchsia illustration of a cactus bloom. Yes, I did blind-buy it on the packaging alone.

Anosmia Bloom is a better name for the opening–I worried that my covid nose had returned–two big sprays on my wrist and one directly on my cuff and for a while all I got was watery citrus.

TokyoMilk #84 lists Petrichor, Saguaro Flower, Agave and Red Clay.
(Saguaro are the big tree cacti out west, with flowers that smell like overripe green melons and are beloved by bats.)

Margot Elena’s “Desert Splendor Awakened” takes a while to wake up, but after a half an hour of weak lemonade, the flowers bloom a hand-span above the skin, herbal-sweet with earthy green notes.

Reasonably pleasant, but nothing special.
Lasts half the day in intimate space, with some dusty musk stains left on cotton.


A night-blooming tune.
(R.I.P. Dusty Hill. Texas has gone to hell without you.)