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.)


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

Bitter Peach

Tom Ford promo card and sample spray, and very fuzzy peaches, one bitten.

Is Tom Ford trying to be the Timothy Leary of perfumery?
Seems like his best stuff is all-about-the-experience-man, and Bitter Peach is a mescaline trip.

First spray goes on with a swirly peach milkshake, but with the sugar turned down and spiked with amaretto–not for children and kind of amazing, for a quarter hour or so.

Then it gets down to business, a sour mash fruity Mandelbrot set that could be edged with almonds, cigarettes, cinnamon, and more, (but is really just intoxicated florals)–mixed with a few paranoid minutes of nauseating pizza and sour milk vomit–which is how you know the drugs have kicked in, right?

Then everything mellows out and turns dreamy and sexy, the peaches held a few inches above the skin with patchi sandalwood and made creamy with vanilla and benzoin for the rest of the evening.

Chaotic and fun.
Please use responsibly.


This slowed down cover of the Beatles’ hit draws out the psychedelics but is no less frenetic.
Spooky Tooth released The Last Puff in 1970–their I Am the Walrus was used in the (hopefully not) last episode of the brilliant show Watchmen.

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.

Velvet Orchid

Flocked faux flower (Say that three times fast!) and a mini purple bottle of Velvet Orchid.

Another olfactory pun by Tom Ford… fake flowers indeed.

I get a nice light orange honey out of the bottle that slowly turns purple–grape juice dye no. 69, lolly-sweet–and a huge mixed bouquet of gorgeous flowers, that weirdly smells more and more plastic the closer it gets to the skin.
Several hours later the blooms fade to faux suede–is it the labdanum that gives a slight chemical smoke?–and vanilla with a resin wood base, that last all night long.

I’m not sure how I feel about it.
It’s lovely from a distance, but Velvet Orchid costs a lot of money for a bunch of artificial flowers, and the concept of “tacky couture” can seem elitist and absurd.


This is how you do absurd right.

Orchid Soleil

Sample vial of bright orange Orchid Soleil, and baby bella mushrooms.

I’m so confused by this scent!
Scrumptious tuberose vanilla ice cream… tripping on ‘shrooms?

Is it the pink pepper at the top that gives it the earthy spore note? Or the patchouli and chestnut funk at the bottom?

And what is it with Tom Ford and fungus?


Some trippy orchids–

Neroli Portofino

neroli portofino edges
Tom Ford aquamarine square apothecary bottle with gold label. Half the floor space of the big duty free shop in Stockholm’s Arlanda airport is dedicated to perfume.

A drier 4711, less sweet, less herbal, with twice the lasting power…
…which means twenty minutes rather than ten.

The orange flower is lovely, but it gets eaten up by the bergamot pretty quickly. I like the amber at the bottom–it roughs up the jasmine, but the rosemary and lavender don’t have the freshness of the basil.

If I were stupid rich, I might buy a bottle, but tried and true and cheap suits broke me just fine.


Chris Cornell joined Alice in Chains on this one.

Black Orchid

Black orchidChocolate covered mushrooms.
Tom Ford’s biggest is actually an olfactory pun on truffles!
The bottle is even textured like gills.

Opens sweet and dirty and loud, earthy cocoa and umami fungus that grows on your skin and your clothes and the walls of your dining room.
They slowly warp into wet white flowers and syrupy fruit, in a change of dinner courses that doesn’t take the old plates away, a trencher of watermelon garnished with petals and patchouli.
Afterwards vanilla beans, smoked like cigars.

Very sexy, in a you-make-me-hungry way, but don’t wear it if you’re dieting.

So many ‘shroomy covers of this song. I’m stuck on this awesome Arabic one right now.

Lost Cherry

lost cherry edge
Grainy pic of cerise Lost Cherry photo, decant vial and my reading glasses, which I lose at least once a day.

Well named–there’s absolutely nothing virginal about this stuff.

Maraschino stem teasing over a powder puff of musk, cyanide sweet foreplay for hours, ending in a melting dish of Ben&Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream.
Pure sex.

This song is also pure sex.

Noir de Noir

noir de noir with rose
Test paper printed with Tom Ford bottle, decant vial and bud from a miniature rose bush.

This hit me with pruned roses in a vase, overly sugared lemonade, then amaretto non-dairy creamer–gorgeous wild things tamed and tempered to be generic.
I felt the need to mind my dirty mouth, to check my shirt buttons for too much cleavage.

Then the guy said, “You smell like my mother.
So that’s that.

I’m not often one for acapella, but this is kind of amazing.

Tobacco Vanille

tobacco vanille
Tom Ford bottle, distorted behind a Four Roses bourbon bottle.

This is amazing.

Opens up with glorious daddy issues of pipe tobacco and bourbon, then dresses in a chocolate velvet vest with a watch chain and takes me out to the lesbian billiards bar.
I drink vanilla shots until I’m cut off for spilling one and we go home to empty cabinets except for that fruitcake I re-gifted and got back two years later.
It’s delicious. Best date ever.

Filthiest song ever.