A*Men

Black A*Men sample spray on blue themed promo card featuring a flask with the Mugler iconic cut star.

Mint chocolate patchouli, camphor cool and creamy, with black coffee on the side.
Lasts an eternity.

Incredibly dynamic, constantly shifting from dark to bright, sugary to herbal, soft to sharp–and there’s something aggressive about the performance, the way it fills the room and takes up space. A*Men is definitely a manspreader, but gets away with it by being sweet and fun.

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“I think beauty is the human emotional vehicle between us and it’s very important.” – Manfred Thierry Mugler

The world has lost some sparkle today, and I imagine the angels and the aliens fighting for the honor of carrying him upward.

Mugler was an incredible fashion designer, responsible for so many history making outfits–Demi Moore’s Indecent Proposal dress, Kim Kardashian’s wet Met Gala number, David Bowie’s neon green suit, Cardi B’s Venus dress–and sooo many more, all bold, creative, sometimes divisive, and always attention getting, just like his perfumes.

He was a visionary and an activist, ignoring gender rules, racial bias and body shape stereotypes, making luxury fashion inclusive and exciting to all, and in the case of his fragrances, accessibly priced and environmentally conscious.

Rest in Parfum, sir, and thank you for all the beauty you have given us.

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George Micheal’s 1992 Too Funky video was set in a fictional Mugler runway show.

African Rooibos

Paper test cutout of red flask and copper label wrapped sample spray on a china saucer with a cup of red tea.

Herbal tea that’s so spicy it puts hair on your chest, then rocks you to sleep.
Warm peppery cardamom at first sip, but slowly steeps into hearty yet smooth red tea with tonka.

Lasts the day on skin–intimate and sweet (orris root keeps it from getting syrupy)–with some soft wood smoke on the bottom.

I really like it, and had fun comparing it with yesterday’s sniff, Amouage Lyric Woman, which has a lot of the same notes under the rose. African Rooibos is much earthier–more knight to Lyric’s queen.

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Rooibos grows only in the Cederberg Mountains, north of Capetown.
Here’s some more South African goodness from the very popular pop duo Mafikizolo.

Lyric Woman

Square, deep red mini flask with domed lid and Amouage medallion in silver, with a sprig of scarlet tipped rose sedum.

Lyric opens with bright bergamot and sharp green cardamom that slowly relaxes over chai tea–cinnamon vanilla sweetened with ylang-ylang–and dark velvet roses, for two hours or so. A lemony herbal note from the geranium drifts in and out, keeping it refreshing.
Amouage’s usual incense is anchored by sandalwood on the bottom, holding it more to clothes than to the body, and under that, powdery orris made creamy by an almond-ish tonka on the skin.

Absolutely lovely, with capricious projection–sometimes a huge flourish of roses at arms length, sometimes just a hint of intimate spice–but might be too sultry for me.
This one requires the rubies and Arabian horses and smoking kohl eyeliner type, and I’m more of a garnet and beat up jeep and mismatched cat’s eye gal.

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A sultry song.

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?

Ashore

Amouage sample spray, and package featuring a watery sunset.

Nice at first–
Starts with spiced whipped cream-y jasmine in personal space that slowly drifts to a hand-span off the wrist as the cardamom ripens–then it takes an odd turn as curried raw salmon for a few hours.
The rose sticks to clothes more than skin, with sweet resins that last most of the day.

I’d enjoy it more without the fish course.

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This song has absolutely nothing to do with the ocean and has no sushi.

Seahorse

Zoologist sample spray with turquoise eau, and promo card featuring a seahorse in a kelp toga, looking a bit perturbed at my spice jar with a seahorse skeleton and some tiny shells I found on Sanibel Island.

Zoologist’s newest is a surreal snorkeling jaunt that begins at the bottom of the reef with the weirdest lunch of buttered seaweed on rye toast, goes on to examine some herbal indolic anemones, then drifts ashore on pleasant low tide algae funk.

Seems a little gimmicky–a fun excursion, but I don’t want to smell like it.
Lasts minutes on skin, but like sand, is impossible to get out of clothes.

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This equally odd Sea Horse takes a trip through folk blues, new age, and Jim Morrison.

Christmas Wine

Sample vial and test paper apothecary bottle cut-out, and vintage star shaped ornament.

Big spiced plum mulled in cloves all day long, with an undercurrent of sharp needle fir.
Tart fruit bites in as it warms, sweetened with candied orange peel, fun and inviting.
Performance drifts in and out on skin, but anchors really well on winter knits.

Way too much holiday spirit for me to wear, but I’d love my house to have this much cheer.
I’ll scent my solstice votives with the sample.

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More cheer.

Qaa’ed

Gold diamond stamped sleeved bottle and matte black canister.

Lattafa Perfumes (out of the United Arab Emirates) can be found fairly easily online or in the beauty section of import shops at great prices–Qaa’ed cost me less than a tub of pistachio halva.
And while the eau doesn’t exactly smell rich, there’s some good spiced leather packed in the glitzy bottle.

Opens with a big dose of amber cinnamon sweetened with vanilla, then five minutes in cardamom carries in the leather–new work boots with rubber soles and saffron suede car coats lined with polyester–a bit synthetic, but made to last.
And the woods on the bottom do last, even through a hot bath, spicy oud and buckskin still sweet the next day.

Could be an affordable alternative to Bvlgari Black, especially in autumn–the cool florals replaced with warmth.

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Love this collaboration from these two Dubai based musicians.

Quercia

Yellow Acqua di Parma discovery set box, with black capped sample spray, and turning oak leaves.

Autumn, and sweet.
Begins with a mid-day bluster of lemony oak woods, then grabs a mug of chilled root beer and settles in for a fire-lit evening, while the winds blow outside.
Shifts from cheerful warm spice to melancholy cool herbs and back again with the weather.
I like it very much.

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I’m a month late on this, but ’tis the season.

Zahira

Topaz yellow tipped ebony vial–representing a jeweler’s dop stick for polishing gems, a nice bit of Bvlgari branding–in a tall shot glass because it also looks a lot like a bartender’s swizzle stick.

A queen bee perfume, and heaven help the poor drones.

First flight is spice and sweetness, then she melts into syrupy amber–soft at social distance, but full of invitation into personal space where the cinnamon is buzzy and warm.

An hour in the ylang-ylang softens, and fruit notes begin to slide in and out of the benzoin, wildflower honey with alluring facets of lemon and apple and apricot for the rest of the day.

Zahira is perfect for autumn, with spicy warmth that’s too delicate for the summer sun. A bit expensive, but a lovely indulgence when one needs some royal treatment.

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Another beckoning Jem.