Toy Boy

Moschino promo card and sample spray, advertising a black bottle in the shape of a teddy bear.

This guy is fun, jeans and a whimsical graphic tee with nice shoes–he can tell a great joke without punching down, knows good drink recipes, and flirts with just his eyes.

Quick pink pepper and slice of pear, with a pinch of spice at the beginning, then an earthy–almost oily–masculine woody rose blooms in personal space for half the day.
Drifts down to the skin with more woods and fluffy fiber notes–the way a new skein of silk mohair yarn smells, a bit musky and animalic, and so, so soft–for a few more hours.

Lighthearted, affordable and a nice change from the ginger-lavender-vanilla mash-ups that are everywhere right now.


An earthy song by the Rosewood Thieves.

Seaberry & Rose Clay

White capped roller stick, clear with red detail and a whale logo.

I’m so disappointed.
Sea-buckthorn, sanddorn (Swedish), argousier (French), or seaberry, is a creamy lemony pungent berry, close to a cranberry in texture and tartness.

The Old Whaling Co.’s version–a kid’s Body Shop strawberry and raspberry jam mashed with chalk and rose–was named by someone who has never touched, seen, eaten, or smelled a real seaberry.

Their Mariner’s Moon candle sounds nice.


Shanty-Tok was a wave of communal Covid-19 art, when musicians discovered the looping possibilities of the TikTok social media app, and combined it with sea shanty folk songs.
The Wellerman was the best, started by Nathan Evans.

Exit the King

Etat Libre d’Orange sample spray and box with target motifs, and a yellow paper crown.

(Did they toss His Majesty out with the bathwater?)

Awkward soap aldehydes that want to be fine milled French savon, but there’s something weird–maybe the pink pepper?– that gets fishy, in a sea foam at low tide sort of way, as if Thierry Mugler stuck his Womanity caviar finger in the tub to test the eau.

The roses are sweeter and last days longer on cotton than on skin.


He was a good king.


St. Clair sample vial on a promo photo, with scattered with cloves.

Starts uncomfortably fecal, a bit the way Musk Deer does, but after five minutes or so, roses grow out of the fertilizer. They bloom, bright and lemony with petitgrain tea, then get ripe and sweet for a good two hours, a foot of the wrist.
The base settles to great smoky vanilla spiked with cloves, that last most of the day on the skin.

Elegant, after the earthy opening.
I’d wear it to garden parties, if I were extroverted and socially adept.


Discovered this cool group today–

Rose Flash

A yellow long stemmed rose balanced on a signature Tauerville bottle–a cube with a navy and white graphic label–filled with dark amber extrait.

Rose Flash has a lot of ties with my beloved Slumberhouse Sådanne, another psychedelic fruity rose wine with woods at the bottom, but instead of the Scandinavian seashore, the Tauer version is set in a Persian garden.

Vibrant roses, heady and lush, edged with green.
They take a lemon curd turn–piquant, a bit balsamic, sweetened with honey–projecting into living space for most of the day, while a bit of cinnamon spice sits close to the skin.
Resinous wood gives structure, support for berry canes and ripening rose-hips, that lasts til next morning.

There’s something wild and carnal about it–like the roses in Eden lost their innocence along with Adam and Eve–that is addictive.
Luckily, Tauerville is one of the most affordable niche lines out there–about a third of the price of Slumberhouse.


Ananda Shankar was an Indian sound artist who fused traditional music from all over the world with jazz, funk, and synth.

500 Years

Etat Libre d’Orange sample spray and white box with gold medallion, and hourglass with pink sand.

I only get about 500 minutes, not years, but they’re pleasantly spicy, and dry.

Earl Gray tea roses with cardamom à la Amouage that start loud and boisterous, then settle into cocoa powder with a peppery edge. Oud-ish sawdust on the bottom gives some structure, and there’s a bit of nice leather boot swagger, too.

Leans to the earthy ground saffron edge of unisex.
Pricey, but the projection is good for those eight and a third hours.


This take on the Proclaimers’ hit turns it into a brooding duet, with no less urgency.

Wild Poppy

Mini black capped Nest bottles, Wild Poppy in front with red flower illustrated label.

Whew. The rollerball application might not be the way to sample this one.

One stripe on the wrist and I get Enormous Fruits, in a Carmen Miranda hat so huge it makes my eyes cross.
Scrubbing twice knocks it back to a heavy raspberry rose headache, three feet off the skin, that no amount of dish detergent or aspirin can conquer.
I tried Goo-Gone, and Ajax.
It’s been two days.
I’m contemplating one of those foot peel masks. And acupuncture. Maybe an orbital sander?



Miniature iconic black Joy bottle with red domed cap and gold writing, sitting in the petals of a red-tipped cream rose.

Joy opens bright, rose and tuberose made extra sweet and loud with ylang-ylang.
Jasmine soon blooms, indolic and spring green with rosebuds that slowly ripen then turn almost spicy and dry down to sandalwood. Musk with a hint of cat purrs at the bottom, keeping it from being too pristine.

There’s really no way to explain how perfectly blended the bouquet of flowers is, yet every single element is so distinct–the way a Matisse painting comes together perfectly, the way a string quartet becomes more than the sum of the strings–gestalt theory produced in perfume.

I still have the bottle I bought in Paris when I was sixteen, but I never wear it–I feel like I’m putting on airs (farting above my ass–to use a French idiom) or playing dress up in clothes I’m not woman enough to pull off.


Joy came out in 1930. The next year Josephine Baker released the record that made the world pay attention to more than her banana skirt.

“I have two loves, my country and Paris…”


Vintage mini bottle with an orange bow-tie and a label illustrated with stylized carnations, and real pink edged white ones.

Garofano means carnation, and this little Italian beauty–first produced in 1930, and reissued for gift sets in 1970–is exactly that, but amplified.

Jasmine sparkles up the carnation’s already sweet and zingy opening, and then the heady middle is augmented by roses, making it even more rich. The bottom is the best part, with added cloves (wild carnations are called clove-pinks) and pepper bringing out the floral spice.

My schnozz is healing!
I get all the facets, even the base notes (which are spicy enough to be worn by even the most alpha gents)–they’re just at 50% volume, rather than full blast.
Right now, I get two hours from it, three inches off the wrist–but I’m sure the performance is at least double that.

One of my favorites from the Borsari 1870 collection.


Oasis’ cover of The Jam’s Carnation jam.

Be Delicious Fresh Blossom

Chrome DKNY mini apple filled with pale pink eau.

“It gets better,” a teacher once told me, and I clung to those words even through college.

Fresh Blossom doesn’t.

Starts summer school with fruit flavored sanitizing cleanser and Pert shampoo. The roses soon call attendance, sharp and artificial on wire stems, loud enough to make one wince.
A few hours later, the florals settle to apple woods, a smear of Yankee Candle MacIntosh that stains the clothes.

This one gets a passing grade only for the longevity.


Wussy’s cover of the Beatles needs more play–it’s got a great Cowboy Junkies hits The Runaways feel.