Youth Dew Amber Nude

Half full ribbed hourglass bottle with tall gold cap and brown grosgrain ribbon belt, with cinnamon sticks and an orange carnation.

(There’s something deliciously ghoulish about buying perfume from an estate sale. You know that bottle is haunted, but you take it home anyway.)

Tom Ford’s remix of Estée Lauder’s classic Youth Dew smells exactly the way Swedish Julmust tastes, only sexier.

For those who’ve never been to Sweden in December, Julmust is a sweet spiced cola made with ginger and citrus and other secret ingredients, and is the only non-alcoholic drink you’re allowed at Christmas.

Amber Nude starts with an effervescent pop of candied grapefruit peel, ginger and cinnamon, then mixes in carnation sweetened with jasmine and ylang-ylang, which turns into clove spice-drops that melt in personal space all evening long. Spun sugar amber and warm woods linger on clothes forever afterward.

Brilliant for holiday parties with low cleavage dresses.
(Cheers to you, dead lady with good taste in minimalist furniture and sexy perfume. I bet you were fun.)
Skål.

*

Cheryl Wheeler is a brilliant folksinger and songwriter whose tunes have been covered by Bette Midler, Garth Brooks, and many others.

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.

*

I love this.

Frost

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.

Riding Crop

Black riding crop with braided handle, white satin rope, and Demeter mini splash with black tall-top cap.

Demeter Fragrance Library’s Riding Crop is not the stuff of Bluegrass tack shops, with clean virgin hide goods and polished silver bits, nor of stables full of equine sweat and clover hay.

This unisex cologne is a quick trip to the sex shop.
Tops with leather and latex, changes position with high end water-base lube and a hint of drying spice–cardamom, perhaps–and bottoms with pleasant musk and a post-coital smoke.

Fun.
Doesn’t last long, and stains the clothes a bit.

*

Lots of folks have covered this Velvet Underground song, but The Kills’ acoustic cover turns it intimate and consensual.

Rose Prick

Pale pink Tom Ford promo card with sample spray, and rose stem with thorns.

Ooh, I like this one–a nice dry rose, the way good sherry and a sharp sense of humor are dry.

Starts with an interesting spicy chocolate, and a bit of skanky-sour rose-hip fruit for a half hour, then gets powdery soft with enchanted rose forest patchouli thorns for the rest of the day.

Nothing sweet about it, and quite loud–this one enters the room before you do, and lingers after you’re gone.

Lovely for fairy-tale princes on a mission, and queens who need no rescuing.

*

A dry, dry song.

Hierba Nera

Coreterno sample card and spray, with cheeky neo-baroque postcard of a lady with a high ruff collar and spray painted mask.

I love the opening–green citrus with good rasp of nutmeg, and a nice hit of pot funk–but in 15 minutes Hierba Nera (Black Grass) slides into smoky amber resins with lazy projection.
The base notes of miscellaneous wood musks last half the day on the skin, with no residue on cotton.

Leans to the oak-y end of unisex.

If the top notes took center stage, I’d be all up in a bottle–the art-house basement party vibe is delightful–but the high doesn’t last long enough to warrant the cost.

*

Very fun video to a cool song.

Musk Deer

Zoologist bottle cutout paper tester, green cardamom pods, decant vial and enamel deer brooch.

Rude at first, then lovely.

Opens with loud fecal spice, like something large and furry shat cardamom pods in your personal space.
Just as your eyes start to water in protest, the cedar tamps down the fumes with some nice florals, and then the softest powdery musk takes over.
The orris root makes this brilliant–not like Lolita Lempicka’s pulverized violet candy–more fae monarchy walking in the forest, raising sugary pollen that glitters in the sun.

The base woods stay sweet on the on the skin for half the day, with the musk trailing a foot above.

Unisex. Leans delicate, after the feral beginning.

*

Music for modern elven kings:

Noa

Cacharel’s iconic peach shaped bottle with cape collar–the mini doesn’t have the little pearl inside–sitting in a mortar and pestle filled with coriander seeds.

What a fun little coffee-on-the-terrace scent!

Opens with some late 90’s fruity flower goodness, then warms up with espresso and coriander–the seeds, not the cilantro leaf, after the plant has bolted and the flower pods are ripening in the sun–warm and sweet and spicy.

The powdery musk in the center is soft and ageless and perfect for morning.

Doesn’t last terribly long, but it’s not pricey, so have another cuppa.

*

This is song is full of good post-quarantine vibes.

Rock ‘N’ Rome

Allegra collection card, sample spray and apricot and plum candies wrapped in cellophane.

Described as a “floriental expressing the fulfillment of being together on a Roman terrace.”
Does partying out on an Italian balcony smell like apricot hard candy?

I like it.
Delicious fruity sour-balls out of the wrapper, clear and sweet, with a hint of summery yellow florals on top; a creamy center and a bit of spice that lasts an hour; and a sugary woodsy resin finish on the skin.

The benzoin at the base is absolutely luscious but I wish it lasted longer.

*

A groovy laid back cover.