Murkwood

Olive brown sample vial and burlap gift bag, smoking incense stick and pine sprig.

Sweet smoke, and pine trees.
Soft and resinous on the skin, sharper and greener on cotton cuffs.

There’s a hint of something dangerous lurking underneath, that takes the incense out of the headshop and into darker, more niche territory–the moist forest floor threatened by distant fires, the spilled tea leaving ominous stains.

Very unisex and a bit sexy. Lasts a good two hours a foot off the wrist, then rests on the skin for two more.
I really like it.

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Acoustic Cure Forest might be my favorite.

Lui

Guerlain long glass sample phial with pink eau, on black box embossed with gold foil sun face.

Big boss benzoin that morphs into cuddly cloves, and swanky.

Splashes on with spiced sipping vodka and a squeal of brand new tires, (I should probably spell it tyres, because these are definitely fancy imports) and cracks a leather licorice whip at everyone for a while.
Then it relaxes, and slowly settles just above the skin with soft smoky vanilla powder–rich sweet incense ash–and whispers complements all day long.

I’m crushing hard on this one.
Very unisex, but wouldn’t be offended by the assumption of male pronouns.

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This grunge oldie is smoky and sweet, with a nice aggressive edge.

Bulletproof

TokyoMilk black mini bottle with white pistol illustration, and a marching line of .45 caliber bullets.

Fierce out of the bottle, smoked black tea with two sugars and burning cedar shavings, loud in personal space, soft outside.
Lasts three hours before sliding into nutty vanilla and dark woods on the skin for three more.

Aggressive but interesting, with enough sweetness to be inviting.
Recommended for corporate mercenaries and apocalypse vigilantes.

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DAG: Angharad used to call them anti-seed.
CHEEDO: Plant one and watch something die.
~ Mad Max: Fury Road

Everything & Nothing

Black TokyoMilk Dark bottle with white feather motif, and a few lost black boa feathers to make my photo pretty.

Sugary orange gummy candy on top, cheeky and loud, that projects for 2 hours at arms length before slowly drifting down to floral oak-y tea leaves, left to stew in the bottom of the pot. The finish is quite nice, smoky and mysterious, and long lasting on fabric.

Also, this one matures well in the bottle.
I’ve an older rollerball as well–five years at least, the juice has turned dark and thick–that opens with a whiff of boozy plum wine before hitting the Brach’s Orange Slices, and has a slightly richer dry-down. I like both equally.

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Love this sweet and mysterious song from one of my favorite duos.

La Fin Du Monde

Etat Libre d’Orange paper test of bottle (with orange radioactive symbol label) sample spray and box, and seasoned popcorn.

The End of the World definitely starts with a bang.

Opens noisy, an explosion of salt and pepper popcorn that leaves one thirsty, then the minerals seep in, metal smoke and charred woods, and concrete rubble. The fallout stays dominant on clothing, but after an hour or two flowers grow on the skin, powdery with a bit of ash, soft and strange.

Weirdly violent, in a post-apocalyptic movie way, and hopefully not prophetic.

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This is easily the best song on Achtung Baby.

Spice Must Flow

Sample spray and paper tester of amber bottle, with the ELd’O medallion redesigned with a sci-fi planet vibe.

Did anyone else mutter, “Fear is the mind killer…” as they opened their little white package?

I was rather excited when Etat Libre d’Orange announced their obvious hat tip to Frank Herbert’s DUNE novels. The classic series revolves around the politics of a psychotropic spice which fuels all interplanetary commerce.
Melange is described as a glowing blue addictive cinnamon, mined from the sands of Arakkis.

ELd’O’s tribute is not Melange, and the nerd-girl in me feels this could have been really iconic with the addition of either cassia or canela.
Spice Must Flow does have a good desert planet vibe, though.

Opens with an explosion of hot ginger-cardamom-rose, powder dry, that shifts between sweet and salty until it settles to incense dust on the skin, where it lingers for days.
The peppery notes make it very masculine–though a Bene Gesserit witch could easily wear it in a subtle manipulation for dominance–a rugged cardamom bomb with rose thorn shrapnel.

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DUNE was an influence on Thirty Seconds to Mars’s first album.

Fragile

Snow globe with gold glitter liquid and a black figure with Jean-Paul Gaultier’s iconic corseted silhouette.

There are few times I would ever recommend anyone not snatching up an adorable miniature vintage bottle from a brilliant costume and fashion designer, filled with tuberose and sweet smoky spice mixed by Francis Kurkdjian himself, that lasts at the most delicate arm’s length forever–

–but this mini Fragile is a pain in the ass.
The press-on tab lid on the bottom leaks, because gravity. The gold detail on the bottle on the bottle decomposes with alcohol, and since perfumer’s spirits are usually 190 proof, that happens quick. And the mouth, one of those irritating single drop orifices (orifii?) that essential oil bottles have, gets clogged up with glitter particles and has to be cleaned out with a pin.

So don’t.
Walk on by.
Keep scrolling.

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I do love me some Gaultier. His costumes in Fifth Element were amazing.

Tuberose Flash

Tauerville black and white label bottle, casting prism shadows. I wish this one came in larger amounts–I’d buy it by the quart.

Tank Battle’s older sibling who drinks too much and swears a lot, and I’m obsessed.

A shot of benzoin bourbon out of the bottle and a heavy draw of labdanum smoke, and then slides easy into creamy tuberose. Sweet and lazy, it lingers close for the evening, a faint breath of patchouli keeping it just a little dirty.

Sexy as hell.

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The opening of this is fun–I love when musicians tune onstage.

Encens

encens edgy
Really grainy pic of Scentbird decant spray on printout of Rag & Bone bottle.

This is the other guy in your MFA class–who rolled his eyes at the dude who started every sentence with “Actually…”
He smoked menthols, and cooked you dinner with five spice powder and wrapped his leather coat around you when the weather turned bad, and you never officially dated but once in a while you still get a postcard from Asia that smells of joss sticks.

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Memoir

memoir
Black Amouage mini bottle (that turns greenish when backlit) on stack of tiny books.

La, this is lovely.

Incense that’s been soaked in sweet wine, an antique spice chest with gilt hinges, a library of flowers pressed in rare books–

Fills the room at first, labdanum fueling soft animalics, then slowly fades to the skin. Wormwood takes the sweetness from the cloves to make them leathery and rich, but roses soften the edges, making it feminine.

Lasts all day, and even longer in the hair, vintage luxury at its best.


Emaan Zadjali is an American-Omani online sensation who calls her music “trap-soul.”
I like this smoky tune.