Bubble Gum

Pink ceramic bottle and Dum-Dum bubble gum lollypops.

Bel Rebel’s interpretation opens with a tutti-fruity candy coated gum ball, loud and boisterous, the kind that clatters down the clear spiral base to ding the silver door of the coin machine.
I get the orange flavored one, citrus tart and sweet.
Sadly, the trace amounts of cloves aren’t enough to elevate it out of the candy dish–more sweet spice is needed to blend the fruit sours into that truly iconic bubblegum flavor.
I’m reminded of Fruitchouli Flash, an earthier distant cousin, maybe.

Settles down to elbow length after half an hour, with a dusting of chalk powder and the faintest hint of mint. (I got sneezy for a minute, but perhaps not the fragrance’s fault? Cold-season and all.)
(It’s 23 eff degrees outside, right now.)
Nice, and sniffy–I’m aware of it as I type–but I wish the heart had a bit of L’Interdit‘s tuberose or jasmine to cream it up and give the opaqueness that the bottle suggests. Bubblegum isn’t clear–

Lasts half the day, slowly fading to lighthearted patchouli on the bottom, with some super soft musk, an inch above the skin through the evening.
I like it. For the price, I’d hoped to love it.

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I do love this–

Grain de Soleil

A mini bottle of red amber eau with Fragonard’s iconic sunburst cap in silver, sitting on fresh snow.

I needed a bit of sun today, and this little beauty gives big powdery vanilla amber warmth with just one drop. (Really, just one–this stuff gives off melting honey rose trails a mile long.)

Sandalwood and cinnamon on the bottom keeps the marzipan-ish heliotrope from getting sticky, and adds some maturity to the vanilla.
Lasts all afternoon and through the night on clothes, leaving sweet spice dust behind like footprints in the snow.

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Stay warm, yeah?

Zut

Mini bottle shaped like bare-from-the-waist-down legs with a dress puddled at the feet, and a pink and green box with gold accents. The original bottles had frosted panties with polka-dots and stripes.

Such a fun surprise!
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this clever little multi-faceted cassis that shifts to vanilla leather and jasmine incense then powdery tonka musk and back again.

Bergamot makes for a fresh opening, with ylang-ylang and lily-of-the-valley keeping it sweet and licorice-ish for a good half hour. Then the florals get complicated and ever changing–a bit of suede from the marigold, rose tinged sandalwood, creamy orris dust–held to personal space for half the day by the black currant jam.

Unisex, cheerful, and very high end.
There’s a Guerlain vibe to the airy sweetness, yet the base is grounded with an earthy Chanel weight–and it’s all combined with a quirky hit of Lolita Lempicka gourmand.
I can’t help but love it.

Elsa Schiaparelli–a French designer who worked with surrealist artists Marcel Vertes and Salvador Dali–put this out in the 1940’s (though I’ve seen it cited 1937, too) as the bottom half to Shocking’s torso. It was re-released in the late nineties, and is apparently out of production, but unopened boxes are still available at reasonable prices.
I may have to get a big bottle.

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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.

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This hammer is much better.

Narciso

Mini cube of dark eau (yes, it stains) with an ecru top. The full sized bottles are lined with opaque white.

Delightful.

An opalescent woody musk–there’s a lovey creamy yet multifaceted quality about it–and blatantly rich. Starts out with a splash of Shalimar cola, then dusts up with earthy mineral powder made carnal and soft by gardenia.
A bit of rose grows up a few hours in, wild, dry and thorny over the cedars, staying in personal space all day.

Marketed to women, but would be absolutely lethal on masculine types, in a sulking prince way.

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Benjamin Haycock is a singer/rapper/songwriter out of the UK–I love the percussive techniques he uses on the guitar.

Autumn Rhythm

Paper test cutout of Chris Collins black and copper bottle, sample spray and fallen leaves.

Dry sweet musk over soft leather and woods, dusted with gourmet hot cocoa powder.
Comforting yet elegant–there’s a lovely walk-through-the-arboretum feel, with city bustle not too far off.

(If Tauer’s L’Air des Alpes Suisse is your winter in a bottle, Autumn Rhythm might be your fall.)

Greener on skin than on clothing, and makes rough cotton feel like fine spun cashmere.
High end prices, but big boss performance–two small sprays fill social distance and beyond with trailers that last all day.

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An autumn song:

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.

Eve

Paper test strip cutout of a square St. Claire bottle, and test vial of Eve.

Eve was finalist in the 2020 Art and Olfaction Awards in the artisan/independent category, and it’s aptly named, with enormous seductive apple trees growing out of a single drop.

Comes on strong and skanky at first, dirty jasmine that cleans up with roses as it settles down and turns to orchard blossoms. Then the whole tree fills the room, woody trunks, green leaves, and fruit.
After a few hours, powder coats everything in personal space, for the whole day, with smudges of sweet char on the cuffs until laundry day.

The 35% concentration is way too indolic for me–I feel naked wearing it (which might be the point.)
An eau de toilette would be less overwhelming.

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Another take on Eve and the garden.

Sécrétions Magnifiques

Etat Libre d’Orange target motif box and sample spray, with a blue circumcised pencil eraser.
(Best bachelorette party ever.)

Eldo’s divisive masterpiece has distinct topography.

At arms length, we go down a flirty Rococo corridor, powder pastel whispery blue iris, edged with coconut cream. A sweet pretty floral, like those sugar pastilles that taste of cosmetics.

Breaching personal space opens the boudoir door, and we’re thrust into the climax of an orgy–the smell of sweat, fluid and semen hits the back of the throat before we even see who is connected to whom, and how.

Plenty has been asked about context. Would this, on a totally blind sniff without knowledge of the name, still have the same connotations? (Can the innocent innately understand the scent of sex?)

The cloying milky-metallic ooze–with a weird side note of bleach musk–is instantly recognizable, quite loud, and long lasting.
Sécrétions does indeed have a magnificent time, for hours and hours. Perhaps there is tantric practice involved.

Eventually, finally, the earthy dissonance eases down until there’s nothing left but a sweet balsamic afterthought on the skin.

It’s kind of amazing.

Would I wear it? Absolutely not.
Do I keep it around to dare friends to sniff? Absolutely.
(Good revenge on my scotch drinking pal who slipped me that shot of Laphroaig–the stuff tastes like bogwater dipped in tar–just to watch my face.)

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This cover is just wrong. Brilliant, but wrong.
(Like Secretions, very NSFW.)

Lolita Lempicka

Lavender Lolita Lempicka apple bottle pressed with white and gold ivy, and gold stem cap from 1997. The new bottles are plain faceted glass, but supposedly the fragrance hasn’t been reformulated.
And a mess of star anise pods.

I grabbed this one this morning, a test to see how much I’ve recovered–and I definitely pass!
Maybe not with the highest marks–I had to douse myself in it to get everything I know is there–but my schnozz is working, and sniffing this one is like hugging an old friend.

The top notes all come through, a gorgeous thirty-minute-long opening: sweet anise and violet powder blast, with a bit of cool green ivy to keep it wild and fey.
Then the middle blooms, a foot off the skin for three hours: licorice candy, dessert cherries in almond amaretto, dusted with iris flour so everything stays light.
Settles soft, to clothes and hair until the wash: vanilla ice cream, the almond end of tonka, and sugar musk, a brush of vetiver to keep it dry.

Delicious, iconic.
The lighthearted gourmand that exchanged Angel‘s chocolate edible underwear for lace fairy wings, and made fantasy haute couture affordable.
I wore it for a decade.

A dish full of black twists and pink and white Good & Plenty. Licorice was the first thing I could taste, after Covid-19.

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The album Surfacing came out the same year–