Epic Woman

Gray marbled Amouage card with sample spray. The actual bottle is bright India green with gold accents.

Big sweet spice and roses, soured up nicely with lemony geranium tea. There’s some creamy orris powder underneath, with frankincense and vanilla to turn it luxe, but the woods on the bottom keep it grounded, so it doesn’t turn into a cinnamon roll.

Elegant and gorgeous, but also weighty–Epic kind of makes me nervous, like I’d be expected to dance the tango at a moment’s notice, or that dressing in anything but silk brocade would be a disappointment, while wearing this.
(Maybe I’d prefer the cinnamon roll?)


An easy take on Neil Young’s epic song–


Whiskery cat nose sniffing the gold dome of a white mini Amouage bottle, and some magenta button carnations.

Pleasant white flowers at first, not a lot of personality, but sweet–then after a few minutes the tuberose and the carnation pick up the spicy notes and turn more interesting.
There’s a delicate watery feel under the florals–more morning garden dew than rainy lotus pond–that might come from the lily-of-the-valley and rhubarb; green, a little earthy.
Some resinous stuff on the bottom gives a little texture and holds the gardenia in personal space the whole day long.

I get a maternal vibe, in a young expectant mother way–pretty, but not for me.


This Honor isn’t watery at all.


Clear rectangular bottle with offset red square cap, and cardamom pods and cloves.

Opens with green herbs that get spicy as they warm up, teasing cloves and cardamom in a mild weather linen suit way, with sandalwood and soft sweet musk at the base.
Stays in personal space with breezy trails for an hour, then disappears to elusive spice on the skin.

Subtle, elegant and warm. (The guy finds the opening a bit too masculine on me, but likes the drydown.)

Van Cleef & Arpels discontinued Zanzibar, perhaps due to the fleeting performance. Vintages can be found pretty easily, with mini bottles pretty cheap, and full sizes in the hundreds.


An Australian band that’s been around for forty years, and still touring. This is an early one.

Savage Belle

TokyoMilk bottle and cylindrical canister, featuring a yellow striped black kingsnake, and nightshade, foxglove and amaryllis (all poisonous flowers.)

TokyoMilk No. 68 lists Warm Ginger, Bergamot, Charcoal Accord and Wisteria on this new one, but I don’t get much of that.

There’s a splash of sugar-free Canada Dry at the beginning, and a hint of guttering candle in the middle–but it’s gone in thirty minutes. A wisp of purplish citrus clings to cuffs for another hour.

The packaging is gorgeous, though.


This song is a bit more savage.


Zoologist promo sample with adorable rodent in acorn cap beret and scouts uniform, and some dark brown pin oak acorns.

This is nuts.

Opens with a squirt of alcoholic citrus that is overtaken by green cardamom, then turns creamy. (The chamomile and benzoin, maybe? It’s quite nice.)
Acorns and leaves slowly fall to the skin, sharp oak but earthy, sweetened with hazelnuts and herbs.
At the very bottom is more woods and some gorgeous balsamic resins, but they’re cooled with patchouli, a hint of winter coming.

Brilliant for autumn.
I’d enjoy it more as an ice cream or a tea, rather than wearing it–I’d be constantly worried that I’d managed to overturn someone’s fall spice latte on my clothes–but Chipmunk would be perfect for anyone looking for a heartier nutty gourmand than the usual marzipans.


Best Chipmunk remix ever.

Arancia di Capri

Sample card and promo spray in Acqua di Parma’s signature navy blue. The company crest is a crowned shield with a rampant lion, some griffins and maybe a tree trunk on an ermine field, all wreathed in jingle bells.

Opens with juicy tart mandarin slices, and some petitgrain and a hint of cardamom–that all comes together like a nice splash of summer tea, in intimate space.
Melts down over an hour, to the faintest smudge of orange flavored caramel on the skin.

The quality of ingredients is quite nice. I’d be impressed with the performance if Arancia di Capri were an eau de cologne, but for a shy eau de toilette it’s a bit costly.
Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra is a bolder, sweeter tea, and 4711’s Acqua Colonia Myrrh & Kumquat has a sharper, more interesting citrus. Both are longer lasting at better prices.


Found this one the other day.


Opaque black bottle with silver cap, box and slate blue inner liner with Rocky Horror lips, and toothpaste, toothbrush and floss.

TokyoMilk No. 85 lists Crushed Ginger, Thai Pepper, Frankincense and Vanilla Orchid on the box, but it opens with Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
The pepper kicks in immediately and makes the ginger, cardamom and clove mix a bit antiseptic, in a comforting way–like Band-aid adhesive–then it all soaks into the skin, leaving a smear of vanilla frosting and a dusting of head-shop olibanum.
Within two hours, it disappears, gone completely numb.

I really like it. There’s a laid-back medicinal feel to it, with good self-care cuddles.
Good for the guy who’s still too young or shy to pull off Old Spice.


My favorite laid-back jam band version–

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.

Gold Lily

Yellow daylily and mini gold ball capped Shangai Tang bottle with with ivory symbol for longevity.

Sheer lily, sweet floral with an undercurrent of earthy spice, held in place with light patchouli and some pale musk. At a distance the flowers are lovely, but an up-close sniff turns it into car air freshener for a while.
I like the coriander and clove drydown on the skin, after the synthetics fade.

The company has moved their fragrance production toward room scents and candles–I think that’s a good direction for them.


I went down the Google-hole looking for current pop music in Shanghai right now, and fell hard for the modern-hits-traditional vibe of this one. (Google translates the title as “I walked through the lonely long river in Mobei and the sun sets,” but Encore lists it as Xiao – “Rivers and Lakes.”)

Twilly d’Hermès Eau Ginger

Mini cube shaped bottle with white hat cap, and lumps of candied ginger.

The opening is wonderful–sweet crystalized ginger with a sharp bite–but then the tuberose wilts, and the peony turns antiseptic, drawing attention to unfortunate cedar leakage on the bottom, and I get uncomfortable nursing home neglect vibes.

I wanted to love this one–the original Twilly is enchanting for any age, young at heart and soul–but Eau Ginger has too little of that timeless magic, and makes me a bit anxious.


I went looking for the Natalie Merchant and REM cover of John Prine’s Hello in There, but then remembered how much I like this one.