Lempicka Homme

Pale blue promo card with silver ivy leaf, spray sample and several packs of gum wrapped in pale blue.

Must love licorice.

That Lempicka Homme and Black Jack chewing gum have the same color branding cannot be a coincidence. This stuff is dead on.
Black magic aniseed, herbal sharp with a hint of powder–a freshly unwrapped stick–then earthy sugar, the real stuff, no aspartame here, slowly easing down to the musky woody notes at the bottom as the sweetness fades.

There’s other stuff, too, just to be sophisticated, rum and almonds and some smoky labdanum, a little less syrupy than dad’s version, a little less purple, but still witty and fun and cheerful.
Lasts a nice three hours in intimate space, then another three on the skin.

(I do love licorice.)

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More Black Jack in blues.

African Rooibos

Paper test cutout of red flask and copper label wrapped sample spray on a china saucer with a cup of red tea.

Herbal tea that’s so spicy it puts hair on your chest, then rocks you to sleep.
Warm peppery cardamom at first sip, but slowly steeps into hearty yet smooth red tea with tonka.

Lasts the day on skin–intimate and sweet (orris root keeps it from getting syrupy)–with some soft wood smoke on the bottom.

I really like it, and had fun comparing it with yesterday’s sniff, Amouage Lyric Woman, which has a lot of the same notes under the rose. African Rooibos is much earthier–more knight to Lyric’s queen.

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Rooibos grows only in the Cederberg Mountains, north of Capetown.
Here’s some more South African goodness from the very popular pop duo Mafikizolo.

Star Cross’d

Gold capped bottle and canister with marvelous unicorn constellation and celestial motifs on blue.

Five stars for the packaging, I’d like that design as a mural on my ceiling, but the first spray is a synthetic, skin-burning, cleaning solvent mess, and it doesn’t get better.

TokyoMilk #87 lists citrus leaves, water lily, frankincense and vetiver, which somehow adds up to the most abrasive lemon oil ever–
After fifteen minutes murky pond weeds grow a foot off the skin, just to add further insult, but luckily the base takes care of that with a nice dose of Pine-Sol fumes.

Might be a good one to keep for when guests call to say they’re coming by, and you can’t be arsed to clean–you’ll at least smell like they’ve interrupted you scrubbing the floor.

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I’m fairly picky when it comes to covers of this song–Seven Nations’ is good, and so is Rick Springfield’s, but today I need Jimmy Little’s soothing version.

Seahorse

Zoologist sample spray with turquoise eau, and promo card featuring a seahorse in a kelp toga, looking a bit perturbed at my spice jar with a seahorse skeleton and some tiny shells I found on Sanibel Island.

Zoologist’s newest is a surreal snorkeling jaunt that begins at the bottom of the reef with the weirdest lunch of buttered seaweed on rye toast, goes on to examine some herbal indolic anemones, then drifts ashore on pleasant low tide algae funk.

Seems a little gimmicky–a fun excursion, but I don’t want to smell like it.
Lasts minutes on skin, but like sand, is impossible to get out of clothes.

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This equally odd Sea Horse takes a trip through folk blues, new age, and Jim Morrison.

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.)

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This Jem sparkles from Wales-

Quercia

Yellow Acqua di Parma discovery set box, with black capped sample spray, and turning oak leaves.

Autumn, and sweet.
Begins with a mid-day bluster of lemony oak woods, then grabs a mug of chilled root beer and settles in for a fire-lit evening, while the winds blow outside.
Shifts from cheerful warm spice to melancholy cool herbs and back again with the weather.
I like it very much.

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I’m a month late on this, but ’tis the season.

Arsenic

Black TokyoMilk mini bottle featuring a white beetle, sitting in the eye socket of a plaster skull draped in a snakeskin printed scarf.

Now this is what a Halloween fragrance should be–weird, earthy, evocative, and tricky sweet.

TokyoMilk Dark #17 lists Absinthe, Vanilla Salt, Cut Greens, and Crushed Fennel on the bottle–and Arsenic lives up to that, and more.

Wormwood out of the bottle, a satisfying poison green, with a bit of dusty white frosting, both edible and stand-offish.
A twitch of licorice keeps it fresh and fun for several hours at the edge of social distance, and then slides down to intimate space with intoxicating herbal green woods and mineral salts–the the kind that smell a bit sour and glitter when the light hits them right–until the next morning.

The sweeter top notes linger longer on hair and silk, and the bottom blooms brilliantly in a steaming bath (or cauldron.)
Compelling and sexy.
Leans to the warlock section of the spell-book.

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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.

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

Un Jardin sur le Nil

Promo card illustrated with lily-pads and Hermès bottle, and sample spray.

I’ve never been to the Nile, but the Lily Pool Terrace at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden smells a lot like this–standing water in the sun, but nice, with that marvelous fruity green aquatic plant funk.
There’s other stuff blooming too, indistinct but still there, bulbs from the fragrance garden, and distant herbal vegetable leaves, with a bit of city haze underneath.

Perfect for summer, but good for hot autumn afternoons with Chardonnay, too.

Lasts the morning on skin in personal space, and most of the day on clothes.

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Hossam Ramzy was an amazing percussionist–he’s worked with everyone from Led Zeppelin to Shakira. (Y’know the riff in Jay-Z’s Big Pimpin’? That’s him.)

K

Rectangular slate blue mini bottle with silver crown cap and a long red pepper.

This guy starts out like all his other man-pals, noisy and a little gin-drunk, but he’s sweet so you go home with him–and he cooks. Spicy peppers, herbs, citrus, figs, well mixed, and suddenly he’s fun, hot chili and warm blues. Not particularly athletic, but he’s long lasting with good wood and big wok energy.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers cover of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground is good hard funk.