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.

Twilly

Mini Twilly with Hermès scarf patterned box, and knobby bit of ginger root. I adore the trademark black derby cap–a redux of Mercury’s golden helmet, because Hermes, of course.

Twilly is a witch potion. A good one.

Starts with a cuppa ginger tea, a bit of citrus and powdered sugar stirred in, then gets fizzy and trippy.

Tuberoses bloom, bubbly and brash, arguing with the jasmine–who manage to pepper some sharp retorts–in an absurd and delightful Monty Python routine, complete with Silly Walks in vanilla lingerie.
There’s a fun colorful vibe, too, in a cartoons-for-adults way, as if the scent cloud is infused with silk scarf hues.

And it lasts for hours, slowly settling close to the body with an occasional carbonated giggling hiccup of ginger ale and woody spice. In the morning it’s still there, a smudge of watercolor sigils on the skin.

Cheerful modern magic.

*

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.

*

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

Mitsouko Eau de Toilette

Mini scrolled bottle of Mitsouko Eau de Toilette at the center of a crimson firework Gerbera daisy.

1919.
House of Guerlain, Paris France.
Nobody:
Jacques: Here’s gunpowder and blood, coffin-woods and grave-moss, because War.
Nobody: (blinks)
Jacques: And some peaches and jasmine so it’s pretty.

Wow. Guerlain’s iconic Mitsouko is goth as Hell.
Opens with the sharp tang of citrus and peaches–bright coins to pay the ferryman–but made sanguine with roses. Funeral flowers bloom, more roses and lilac and jasmine, and slowly dry to cedar box dust. At the end, embalming spices rise from the skin, and ash smoke–the powdery residue of battle–until they fade to moss and lichen on headstones.

For elegant widows, death obsessed poets and wannbe undertakers.

*

This cheerful little tune is surprisingly dark–John Cale’s classic made modern by Owen Pallett.

Midnight Pearl

Discovery set sample with ad of a vampy-eyed model clutching a string of beads in a pool.

The description is “sultry and floral” with their signature essence of South Sea pearls. (I’m still confused by this. Do they use oyster juice, like that nasty clam stuff in a Bloody Caesar?)

Opens with an oceanic inky floral that is a bit Squid-ish, though not as weirdly wonderful. (Margot Elena’s 20,000 Flowers was a bit like this too, only with ylang-ylang instead of frangipani.)

Wades in a foot off the skin with sweet florals for a couple hours, but eventually dries down to some light woody spice–that I would really enjoy on a guy, maybe the bitcoin beach bum type who throws great parties.

*

Emoni Bali is so fun.

Apple Tabac

My Pineward sample vials came in a little burlap bag–the brand has a home-spun vibe. The apple was delicious.

Bright waxy McIntosh apple skin out of the vial, with boozy pipe tobacco.
Pine comes in quickly, but less evergreen and more flowering conifer–the autumn blooming trees with the dusty pollen, immortelle-ish sweet.
Linear, loud, and long-lasting, with country fair vibes.

I’d enjoy it more as a candle.

*

Carnival madness with Eddie Izzard.