Garofano

Vintage mini bottle with an orange bow-tie and a label illustrated with stylized carnations, and real pink edged white ones.

Garofano means carnation, and this little Italian beauty–first produced in 1930, and reissued for gift sets in 1970–is exactly that, but amplified.

Jasmine sparkles up the carnation’s already sweet and zingy opening, and then the heady middle is augmented by roses, making it even more rich. The bottom is the best part, with added cloves (wild carnations are called clove-pinks) and pepper bringing out the floral spice.

My schnozz is healing!
I get all the facets, even the base notes (which are spicy enough to be worn by even the most alpha gents)–they’re just at 50% volume, rather than full blast.
Right now, I get two hours from it, three inches off the wrist–but I’m sure the performance is at least double that.

One of my favorites from the Borsari 1870 collection.

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Oasis’ cover of The Jam’s Carnation jam.

Catharsis

Palm reading sticker and sample card with arcane eye motif, and spray.

Garage metal shop–pleasantly sour earthy concrete, metallic dust with the smoke of flash sparks from a grinder, tools with wood handles that warm up with use–and spiced gumdrops.

Nice. Leans to the calloused fingertips end of unisex.
Lasts longer and louder on clothes than on skin, and makes one nostalgic for clove cigarettes.

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Another metal catharsis.

Destiny

TokyoMilk rollerball and magenta capped black packaging, on chunks of crystalized ginger.

TokyoMilk #79

Destiny is that marvelous obnoxious friend who’s a blast to hang with, but would wear you out if it were an everyday thing.

Rolls on in with sugary ginger and wild berries, in a heavy-handed but good way, then develops some nice nasty indolic tendencies.
A pleasant bitter-sweetness that might be the davana paired with honeysuckle interrupts for a few hours at arm’s length, then slowly settles down to creamy cuddly jasmine for the rest of the day.

Lots of fun, but for occasional use only.
(Can be hard to find. Snag a bottle if you see it at a price you can afford–I’ve see them as low as $12 used and $60 new.)

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I would totally hang out with Lizzo EVERY day.

Mandarine & Cardamom

Cut crystal 4711 Acqua Colonia flasks, the bottle in front with an orange and gold label.

The first spray is a bright sweet puff of Tang powder, crystal clear sugary orange, that settles down to the skin in 60 seconds.
A bit of herbal citrus peel lingers with some green spice for a quarter hour, a little longer on clothes.

Lovely and refreshing.
Wear to breakfast.

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This song makes me both happy and a little melancholy.

Byzance

Orange carnation tipped in rose pink, and cobalt disc shaped bottle with gold coin center medallion

I was in high school in 1987, and aldehydes were the stuff of women thirty years older, who wore Chanel and Givenchy and Estée Lauder–but that gorgeous blue bottle lured me with bohemian riches and devious secrets anyway.

The juice in my bottle has become dark and viscous, and the carnation has mellowed the soapsuds, turning them into a wonderful fizzy cola. Tuberose still takes center stage, like Ysatis but with more spice and less cat–though I think Byzance has aged better, retro rather than dated.
I’ve no idea how well this performed fresh from the factory. Mine stays nicely at arms length for a good six hours.
Pairs well with sequin tops with shoulder pads.

Snag a bottle soon if you’re into vintage icons–I see fewer and fewer of them at my usual second-hand haunts.

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Byzance is especially lovely in the winter.
This song came out the same year.

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.

Dolce Vita

Ceylon cinnamon and my ancient bottle of Dolce Vita.

I feel a lot of kinship with Dolce Vita.
She tries really hard to be that spicy peach tart who likes a good cinnamon roll (and a little sugar in her bowl…) but can’t quite get the pieces together enough to pull off the whole outfit.

The ingredients are all there–juicy ripe fruits at the beginning, spicy vamp seduction in center, and lingering vanilla woods at the end–but the top is too young, the skirt too brash, the shoes too cute.

I keep trying it, hoping somehow she might have gotten over the awkward stage and come into her own, but in thirty years all that’s changed is that the gold leaf has flaked off the bottle.
Me too, Dolce Vita. Me too.

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This song came out 90 years ago and is still one of the filthiest songs ever recorded.

Twilly Eau Poivrée

Tw’ili-Pepper sample, mortar and pestle with pepper-corns, and a little black Hermès hat.

Heated car seats can be rather disconcerting. The ass is rarely that warm without the shame–or satisfaction–of a good spanking, so one tends to squirm, waiting for the accompanying sting.

Eau Poivrée is such the perfect fresh-ground peppercorn that I get anxiety waiting for the sneeze that never happens.

Before the first spray even lands on my skin, I’m frantically taking a deep breath, holding it, waiting for my eyes to water, getting slightly melancholy that no one is around to say “Bless you!”–and I stay that way for two hours.

The delicate rose and sheer patchouli eventually temper the spice, but by that time I’ve already taken an allergy pill and called my therapist twice.

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A satisfying Pepper:

Beloved

Amouage clear mini on a pale pink Gerbera daisy.

Wildflowers by the seashore, and it’s gorgeous.

Opens bright, with fresh lavender and herbs, held together with Amouage’s signature spicy rose incense.
After thirty minutes or so, soft animalics drift in with dried sweet everlasting flowers and seashell ambergris, and stay in personal space for hours.
Rich salty resin sticks to the skin most of the day, and patchy cardamom on clothes forever.

So pretty.

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One of my most beloved songs. Adele turns it even angstier than the original by the Cure.

Lime & Nutmeg

Mini bottle of Lime & Nutmeg with chartreuse label edged in gold.

The last mini from the 4711 Acqua Colonia sample set.

Lime and dark spice, with a frothy hit of Ivory soap, but there’s a Coca-Cola vibe to it, too.
Green citrus projects a yard off the skin for five minutes, then the nutmeg slowly settles to the skin and disappears, over the course of an hour.

I dumped the whole bottle in the tub and it was marvelous.


Harry Nilsson was a such a brilliant (and strange) musician. His parents were Swedish circus performers, which makes me happy.