Greener on skin than on clothing, and makes rough cotton feel like fine spun cashmere. High end prices, but big boss performance–two small sprays fill social distance and beyond with trailers that last all day.
(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.) Skål.
Cheryl Wheeler is a brilliant folksinger and songwriter whose tunes have been covered by Bette Midler, Garth Brooks, and many others.
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.
Cher’s first fragrance is as loud, sexy, ageless and gorgeous as she is.
Opens with aldehydic citrus dirtied up nicely with tobacco, in a lounge act vibe that shimmers with heliotrope sequins and ylang-ylang fringe, and completely fills the room with contralto vanilla. The set lasts all night, on a stage of soft woods, fairly linear with some dark synth sweetness flickering in and out, just to keep it interesting.
Uninhibited came out in the late eighties, and now seems a little retro, like a good torch-song should, nostalgic and boozy-bluesy–yet it doesn’t seem dated. Imagine Chanel No. 5‘s aldehyde and ylang-ylang sampled into Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille, in Met Gala gear.
Bottles can still be found on-line or secondhand. If you spot a gently used bottle for a reasonable price, snatch it up with an “I’ve Got You, Babe.”
Cher’s covers are brilliant–this is one of my favorites.
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 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.
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.
Jean Patou’s 1000 (said “Mille” because French, oui?) was launched in 1972, a powdery rose chypre with a glimpse of cat in the leaves. Retro and odd, with a loud fruity green opening to a big Joy bouquet, yet somehow demure–the enormous flowers are dusted with iris and violet, and a moss so soft it disguises a rather lot of civet–that after eons settles to the skin with sudsy woody aldehydes.
Extremely long lasting, and in this era, unisex, easily worn by the guy who marches in solidarity with his mother, who wore it almost 50 years ago, carrying signs that say the same damn thing.
Sadly, Jean Patou’s production was halted last year, so grab a bottle of this (and Joy, too, if you haven’t one) now, while it can still be found.
The Partisan is an anti-fascist song written by Anna Marley in 1943, who was an inspiration to the French Resistance. The song resurfaced in 1969 with Leonard Cohen’s cover, and it quickly became an anthem for protesters in the early ’70s, including Joan Baez.
TokyoMilk #28 lists amber resin, oak bark, blood orange, and patchouli–and they’re easily identifiable and rather nice.
The orange is sharp–not juicy, but pleasantly pithy–bolstered by the oak, which carries a bit of root-beer sweetness. The patchouli deepens the blend without taking over, listing more toward sailor than mermaid.
Excess is pleasant and polite, lingering in intimate space for half the day, and a lot less Lovecraftian than the black bottle, name and octopus illustration advertise. (I was hoping to get to use the words squamous, eldritch, and abnormal in this write-up, but sadly, no.)
Here’s a cool cover of the creepy tune from Pirates of the Caribbean 3.
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.
Nice. Fanghorn is a bit brighter than Murkwood and less sweet, with an earthy forest floor petrichor replacing the myrrh and incense. Realistic pine in a summer rainstorm for an hour, then green lichen on the skin for the rest of the day. Semi-permanent on cotton, with the wet fir opening.