Thé Bleu

Pale blue frosted purse spray balanced on rim of teacup filled with Lipton and 3 springs of lavender.

Freshwater mer-folk bath salts.

The first whiff is a slippery murky green note that reminds me of okra. Thankfully, that soon slides away, washed off by fancy French laundry powder–the lavender and violets dried out by iris.

Then comes a round of decongestants in the form of minted tea, an odd sinus clearing smoke under the florals, giving everything a cool blue vibe that I sort of like, for about three hours in intimate space.

Weirdly swampy yet clean.

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Another cool blue.

Zanzibar

Clear rectangular bottle with offset red square cap, and cardamom pods and cloves.

Opens with green herbs that get spicy as they warm up, teasing cloves and cardamom in a mild weather linen suit way, with sandalwood and soft sweet musk at the base.
Stays in personal space with breezy trails for an hour, then disappears to elusive spice on the skin.

Subtle, elegant and warm. (The guy finds the opening a bit too masculine on me, but likes the drydown.)

Van Cleef & Arpels discontinued Zanzibar, perhaps due to the fleeting performance. Vintages can be found pretty easily, with mini bottles pretty cheap, and full sizes in the hundreds.

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An Australian band that’s been around for forty years, and still touring. This is an early one.

Mandragore

Aubergine Annick Goutal ridged bottle, half full.

Modern warlock potion.

Zings with citrus and black pepper out of the bottle, then sweetens up for a little while with anise and ginger. Other herbs are mashed up in there too, and the concoction constantly shifts, releasing smoky bubbles of impossible spell components for several hours–black violet leaf, glass wormwood, electric lavender.

Settles down to a bite of green on the skin, and is gone by noon.
Flips to the grimoire page of unisex.

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I love this.

Valentino Uomo Acqua

Cut crystal mini flask with tiny cherry tomatoes on the vine.

Lovely tomato greens honed sharp with citrus, but then they soften–the sage takes the iris and turns it into that dusty rime on herb plants, rather than sweet powder.
Then Acqua (an odd name for this flanker because I don’t find it aquatic at all) slowly eases down to high quality Italian shoes, but they’re green and soft, keeping some of that suede texture that both sage and tomato leaves have.

Refreshing and smart–lasts half the day in personal space, longer on cuffs.

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Bassi was one of the founders of the Italian hip-hop scene–this one came out in 2017, the same year as Uomo Acqua. My favorite line (that translates well into English) is “I have always been half rapper, half man, divided halfway between the sky and Milan.”

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.

Gardener’s Glove

Sample vial and my gardening gloves on St. Clair promo photo.

“Gardener’s Glove was a finalist in the 2019 Art and Olfaction Awards within the artisan/independent category,” according to the St. Clair Scents website, and yep, this stuff is magical.

The tomato leaf opens loud, the way I like it, jolly green with a nice hit of citrus peel–
And then leather eases in, holding crushed herbs, bruised fruit and flower prunings, a pretty chaotic mess that gets super sweet with black currants and jasmine for several nice hours within personal space.
There’s a dust-up of saffron and vetiver as it settles, then some pleasant animalics and benzoin linger with apricots for the evening, subtle on skin and all night on the cuffs.

Somehow this all adds up to a fairy-tale–a Folavril pixie wearing Land of Warriors armor–but not about royalty, this eau is about the groundskeeper who trained the thorny rose forest, pruned the poisoned apple trees, cultivated the giant beanstalk seeds.

Niche quality, with prices to match, but absolutely worth saving up for–I feel like I could grow moth orchids that flew and ferns that actually fiddled, while wearing it.

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Robert Smith (of The Cure) and Steven Severin (of Siouxsie and the Banshees) got together in The Glove to do a new wave album called Blue Sunshine. This instrumental tune also starts chaotic, then gets super sweet.

Wild Whims

TokyoMilk barrel canister and bottle with botanical drawings of chrysanthemum, echinacea and clary.

From the newest set, TokyoMilk 80 touts Sweet Grass, Clary Sage, Verdant Florals, Citron on the label, and the clary–a lavender-limey herbal–is nicely prominent, I’m happy to say.

Opens bright, cologne-ish–green lemonade on lawn chairs in the hot sun–that settles to the skin within an hour. Turns a little sweaty in a pleasant bitter citrus pithy way for another hour or two.
Fresh, soft, and unisex.
I’d enjoy it as bath salts, too.

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Garbage covers U2 with a dreamy urgency that’s just lovely–(the whole album is great.)

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.

Paris – Biarritz

Chanel promo card and sample spray.

Absolut Citron vodka and green bell peppers an inch off the skin for an hour or so.
Unisex and pleasant–a polite one to wear on the train, but nothing special.

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This song IS something special.
Stone Gossard (of Pearl Jam and Mother Love Bone) and Adam Levine did an amazing cover of this one at the I Am The Highway tribute concert. It’s worth tracking down for a listen–I’m not always a fan of Maroon 5 but Adam has a range as broad as Chris Cornell, and this tune needs it–that whole show was amazing, but today is rainy and gray and I just need the original.

Summer Rain

Sample vial and ad with a naked blonde in a field, modestly clutching a scarf that must have blown off in the breeze, with dramatic clouds overhead.

Touted as “fresh invigorating citrus” and Summer Rain is very much that–lime and grapefruit, like a early a.m. wake up call, that warms up to the citronella bite of cedar shingle siding in the sun.
Might make a nice insect repellent (so hard to find bug sprays that actually smell pretty, whines the girl who lived in Vermont marshlands for ten years) though it lasts only an hour or so.

This was the final spray of my discovery set from Raw Spirit.
I have some feelings about the ad copy that talks about their celebration of the world’s diversity and mentions responsibly sourced rare materials from the Australian Outback, the Caribbean and Bali–yet the model in all the photos is a pale blonde, which seems contrary to what the brand represents.
But the ingredients are obviously high quality, and feel like luxury oils on the skin rather than chemicals.
The scents all have an earthy herbal vibe, and the ones I liked best–Winter Oak and Mystic Pearl–seem more suited for masculine types. I’d not recommend blind-buying any of them, but their sample sets aren’t expensive.

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Feeling Etta on this one today.