No Sleep

Coreterno promo card with arcane eye motif and sample spray on tiny gray pillow.

I keep trying to understand why this one was named No Sleep, when it’s the most cuddly, sleep-inducing scent ever.

Opens with big sweet dream roses and jasmine, then envelops the soul with heady vanilla, creamy and soft, and so relaxing it’s soporific.
Stays a foot off the skin for a two hour nap, then drifts down to a calm patchi woods with a hint of light rain for two more.

I wish it came in smaller bottles–I’d get one for a pillow spray on insomnia nights.

*

My favorite lullaby.

Tainted Love

TokyoMilk rollerball wand and pink and black packaging, with skeleton key motif and a big brass key.

TokyoMilk No. 62 lists Dark Vanilla Bean, Orchid, White Tea and Sandalwood

Sour fruity vanilla, with very little projection, until pleasant smoke drifts in after a few minutes.
Artificial flowers slowly creep up, weird sentient flocked velvet things with plastic stamens, a cute graveyard horror two hour movie anecdote, then the vanilla comes back, warm and powdery, bolstered by bottom woods to linger on the skin another hour more.

Pleasant. A little bit goth, perhaps, but safe.

*

Coil’s heartbreaking version of Gloria Jones’ 1965 bop is much more goth that the one by he who shall not be named, and Vivisectors’ Russian surf instrumental is a hoot, but today I’m feeling Karen Souza jazzy.

Lui

Guerlain long glass sample phial with pink eau, on black box embossed with gold foil sun face.

Big boss benzoin that morphs into cuddly cloves, and swanky.

Splashes on with spiced sipping vodka and a squeal of brand new tires, (I should probably spell it tyres, because these are definitely fancy imports) and cracks a leather licorice whip at everyone for a while.
Then it relaxes, and slowly settles just above the skin with soft smoky vanilla powder–rich sweet incense ash–and whispers complements all day long.

I’m crushing hard on this one.
Very unisex, but wouldn’t be offended by the assumption of male pronouns.

*

This grunge oldie is smoky and sweet, with a nice aggressive edge.

Simply Pink

Fuchsia capped red-to-orange ombre rollerball bottle on mound of pink sugar.

Loud strawberry freezer pop, from the concessions kiosk at the middle school dance.
Artificial sweetened berry pulp with nuances of scented doll, and sassy caramel licorice on the bottom.
Fun, but could be overwhelming during a slow dance.

*

This was the dance anthem when I was in junior high…

Love Tuberose

Opaque cream, silver capped, full sized and mini Amouage bottles, in a pile of pale pink and yellow flowers.

Love Tuberose is a huge ice cream cake cuddle of a scent, and became my favorite comfort fragrance at first sniff.

Starts with a bouquet of white flowers sculpted from sugar paste, with milky sweet notes that slide tropical and faintly fruity–I get a breath of apricot that is most likely me imagining things–so pretty and feminine and uplifting.
A half hour later the fun happens.
Puffs of whipped vanilla rise from the tuberose, with the creamy lightness you’d expect from jasmine, but they’re pure bubblegum, flirty sass with a hint of powder–if a scent could sound like laughter, this one does.
The sandalwood on the bottom keeps it from being too young and giggly. The wood notes are a support for the flowers, giving them strength without taking over, and are more apparent on cotton than silk.

Lasts a good three hours in personal space, then sleeps on the skin with a smile.

All Amouage perfumes are expensive–high end top-shelf bottles with quality ingredients and master blending–but for me, this one is a self-care mood-lifting therapy session with each spray, and worth the cost of a big bottle.

*

This whole album is good therapy–

Pink Sugar

Fuchsia capped rollerball bottle on mound of turbinado sugar. The eau de toilette is quite viscous, as syrupy as honey.

One of everything in a pay-by-the-pound candy store stuffed into a bottle.

Aquolina’s best seller is one of the most accessible gourmand fragrances out there.
Cheap and available, and marketed with childish sweet-shoppe vibes, Pink Sugar is the Candy Crush Saga of perfumes.

And I’ve finally recovered from my daughter’s teenage obsession with Bath & Body Works’ Warm Vanilla Sugar, (the only way to exorcise that stuff from the house is to paint the walls–seriously, there isn’t enough sage in the world) to sniff this without instinctively reaching for aspirin.

Opens with screaming marshmallows and raspberry gum-drops and orange Pixy-Stix, loud as elementary school recess. The rush soon melts into huge clouds of cotton candy nicely dirtied up with a little licorice. A bit more grown up, a little flirty, red heart-shaped lolly-pops get passed like notes in the cafeteria.
At the bottom is caramel, with just enough musk to keep it from being completely cloying, chewy vanilla that lasts all day and sticks to clothes like toffee.

And yes, the stuff is mind-numbingly sweet, but it’s also fun, and I can see why so many bottles peek out of the purses of grown women, too.

*

I saw her in concert when I was 14. She was amazing.

Punk Motel

Coreterno sample card and spray, with some artsy marketing swag featuring Baroque boys in tights.

One to wear with ratty Converse All Stars, sucking down an Orange Julius–while you’re shopping at Tiffany’s.
Like there’s a comfortable I-don’t-give-two-shits vibe, but it’s really high end.

Marshmallow citrus at the start, a bit of rose meringue in the middle, creamy vanilla and salty musk at the base. Rather than being sticky, the sugar is airy and light, yet also very rich.

Stays inside the clothes for half the day, and leaves a faint sweet funk on the cuffs ’til evening.
If I could actually afford to shop at Tiffany’s, I’d bathe in the stuff.

*

Best Stooges cover ever–

Sunny Seaside of Zanzibar

Large 4711 flask–the glass is the palest amber–in a puddle of sunlight and water, with a seashell.

This is quite nice.

Opens with subtle wet fruit (the ad copy says watermelon and star anise, and I get it, after knowing what to look for) and sweet frangipani.
Coconut ebbs in with vanilla in a sheer musky suntan lotion that lasts an extraordinary long time for 4711–the “Acqua Colonia Intense” wears like good eau de toilette–three hours with arm’s length sillage.
I don’t get much of the woods on the dry-down, maybe a hint on my cotton cuffs, but there’s an unexpected smudge of caramel on the skin that I like.

Definitely unisex, but on masculine types this would come across as very luxe, a Tom Ford-ish Soleil for a tenth of the price.

*

Slow easy sunny blues–I can’t wait for summer.

Shalimar Souffle

Large navy blue bottle with classic Guerlain amphora shape, with mauve evening clouds behind.

There’s a very fun generational skip with Shalimar Souffle–a fresh take on bygone fashion–that reminds me of the ultra-feminine girls who wear ’50’s pinup dresses in modern prints at the car shows.

This “Breath of Perfume” opens with lovely light citrus and jasmine, that soon gets interrupted by a peppery note that feels discordant–like it’s my skin, somehow, that is objectionable–but does fade in a few hours, leaving behind rich vanilla cake with lemon icing for the rest of the day.

Retro yet fresh at the same time, but weird on me. (One often sees “It doesn’t work with my body’s chemistry,” in reviews, but I rather feel that with this one I’m the one at fault.)
I gifted my big bottle, but kept the mini. Maybe I’ll improve with age.

*

Imelda May is the epitome of retro and fresh.