A collection of the fragrances I’ve been thinking about and writing about and TikToking about over the past month….

Civet from Zoologist initially smells exactly a creepy fox stole that belong to my late and equally creepy grandmother on my father’s side and which my sisters and I were horrified of when we came across it playing dress-up in her old clothes. There’s a feral mustiness that evokes the dust and musk of clothing that belongs to other people, things they packed up and haven’t worn for a long time. They’re not dirty, but they definitely of someone else’s skin. A balsamic cherry tobacco aspect with notes also reminiscent of artisanal coffee beans described by their copy as “fruity” becomes gradually apparent and what I’m smelling now is not just someone’s old blazer or cardigan, but rather an entire space dedicated to the afterlife of unwanted old clothing. It’s not just skin musk, and moth husks but whiffs of someone else’s perfume from last season, last decade, maybe much further back in time. Civet is a carefully curated thrift store of a scent and while I think I was expecting more of an immersive natural history museum’s earthy, funkiness, it’s still pretty nice. Is it for me? No. But then again, I’ve never had much luck with thrift shops.

Coqui Coqui Coco Coco is probably the most interesting coconut fragrance I have ever encountered. I don’t get suntan oil or pina coladas, which on one hand is refreshing, but on the other hand…I don’t know if I really care for what I do get from it. There’s an acrid camphorous greenness, florals in the form of an oily tuberose, a tea-like champaca flower, and a strange salty, rubbery aspect, that brings to mind slathering yourself in coconut oil on a sweaty summer day and hopping in an inner tube to float down the lazy river in a particularly unhygienic waterpark. This could be a summer scent for someone, I guess? Maybe people who make a stink about their freedoms being impeded when they are asked to vaccinate or wear a mask, and who bring their bratty brood to Adventure Lagoon in the middle of a pandemic and spend the next 12 hours screaming and spitting and peeing on everything. Ok, now that I have said that I have decided that this is the scent of the weirdly scented air freshener at the funeral home where these people’s corpses end up. Wow, this went to a dark place. Wear your masks. Get vaccinated when you have the opportunity. Don’t be the reason your local funeral home smells creepier and more crowded than it actually does. [Note: this is a review very reflective of the time during which it was written, being in August of 2021. It is my dearest wish that in a few short years, no one even knows what I am talking about.]

Moynette Paris is a gracious, creamy white floral that seems both vaguely tropical gardenia and island vanilla but also vaguely cottage garden lily of the valley, and somehow not really enough of one or the other. Despite this, its at its best in its initial stages. As it wears, while it’s still charming, in a mild “oh, you’re still there” kind of way…it becomes a little…Not dirty exactly. But rumpled? Wilted? Disheveled?It recalls for me the book To Kill A Mocking Bird, wherein Scout is talking about the oppressive summer heat in the town of Maycomb, where “Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.” There’s something of clammy skin and powderyness in Moynette that makes me think of that dumb quote about how ladies don’t sweat, they glisten. I get a little peevish if I think about that for too long, and that’s eventually how this perfume makes me feel as well.

BROOD X from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Having spent most summers of my life in Florida, the buzzing drone of the cicadas provide the ambient murmuring score that haunts the landscape from sunrise to sunset, starting mid-May and sometimes lasting through October. Singing from birth until death, they’re said to once have been humans enchanted by the muses into singing and dancing for so long they stopped eating and sleeping and died without noticing. I think of them as local divinities and the spirits of this place and without their otherworldly thrumming chorus, summer doesn’t sound the same. BPAL’s aromatic ode to the emergence of Brood X is the wordless warble and urgent hymn of dew and roots, creamy floral sugarcane, sweet moss and grassy hay, and an earthy-nutty-musky-smutty hazelnut incense– and if there is any scent you might want to wear for a two week extravaganza of screaming, fucking, and dying, this is the perfume to go out in.

Comme des Garcons Jaisalmer is from the same incense series as Kyoto and Avignon, both of which I reviewed here previously but whereas I really adore those two and connected with them right away, this one is a bit slippery in terms of getting a handle on it. If it were a person, it would be reserved to an uncomfortable degree (and I am fairly reserved, but I think this person is ten times worse than me) and with a sense of humor so dry, no one can ever figure out if they’re joking or not. And then they disappear and you’re not even sure if they were ever in the room with you to begin with or maybe you imagined the whole thing. Jaisalmer is a tremendously peppery affair, with transparent woody notes, and a fleeting dusty cardamom aspects that’s surprisingly whimsical considering the restrained nature of this scent, but it’s also quite fleeting. As a matter of fact, overall, it’s a fragrance fairly it’s ephemeral in nature, so I would encourage one to spritz with abandon and get to know it, if it will ever allow itself to become known.

I recall that I really loved the sample of i Profumi di Firenze’s Ambre de Nepal I got 15 years ago and I decided to splurge on a full bottle last month. I tell you what: if nothing else, finally writing reviews on all the fragrances I own is an exercise in both recognizing and reconciling with myself how much my tastes have changed over the years. When I recently smelled this out of the box, I was immediately like, wow man, this is a real ice cream sandwich of a scent. As if you took an ancient chunk of bronzed, powdery amber resin and churned it up with rock salt, whole milk, fresh cream, and about 50 vanilla bean pods– which you’d probably have to take out a small loan for because those things aren’t cheap. And then you baked up some really squidgie brown sugar blondies with a hint of cardamom, cut them into uneven rectangles because precision is not your strong point and your glasses prescription is outdated, and then you piled your creamy frozen amber confection between two of those lopsided cookies. But you immediately wrapped them up in the freezer because let’s face it, you don’t really like sweets anymore, so why did you make this in the first place? Much like those imaginary ice cream sandwiches, now hidden behind a bag of frozen peas for eternity, this perfume probably won’t see the light of day for a long time.

Winter Nights from Dasein (out of stock) has long been a favorite of mine but I’ve struggled with how to talk about it. On the surface, it feels very similar to the treetop spiderwebs and seething silver sparks of the stars blinking in the vast darkness above the midnight blooming forest that I smell in Norne from Slumberhouse. It *is* similar to that, but I have to think about it and talk about it in different terms. It’s both the glitter of crushed emeralds and void of black tourmaline shards. If you’re a Magic the Gathering enthusiast, this fragrance is a green/black deck. The unbridled verdancy of monstrous plants and coniferous land cards that enter the battlefield tapped, alongside the option to bring all of your zombies and undead beast out of the graveyard. If none of that means anything to you, it’s a smoky cardamom cola with a dash of fir and hemlock bitters, that makes you feel like a witchly mixologist in a swanky speakeasy deep in the woods where even if you knock thrice and whisper tree-ish to the pine, the door might not open to you if it doesn’t sense the sylvan vining darkness in your heart.

Myrrh Casati from Mona di Orio opens as a sophisticated boozy cola cocktail. And while the ubiquitous rum and coke may not ring your bell as an especially high-class libation, imagine an offbeat, extravagant artisan’s interpretation of the soft drink, a concoction created with luxury materials and stellar quality essences of cinnamon, lime, lemon, orange, coriander, vanilla and nutmeg, the citrus and spices parceled out in surprising proportions and embellished with a generous flourish of pink pepper. Resinous, peppery, and effervescent, casting a spicy shadow in an art deco champagne coupe, this may have been served at a surreal dinner party hosted by an eccentric Italian heiress greeting her guests in pearls, kohl-rimmed eyes, and a fur coat with nothing underneath. She’ll whisper to you later in the evening that the secret ingredient was a scintilla of belladonna before introducing you to her menagerie of strange pets and conducting an impromptu seance. Drugged by beauty, weirdness and also maybe actual drugs, you spend a night like no other and awake with the taste of cardamom and licorice on your tongue, a veil of incense in your hair, and a necklace of love bites at your throat.

Tom Ford Soleil Blanc is a weird one. But it’s also …not? I’m having a hard time reconciling this. Imagine if you will, Dior’s Poison. Or, at least the melancholic honey-stewed, midnight-harvested orange blossoms and jasmine flowers portion of it. This delicate decoction is imported through a complicated interdimensional shipping conglomerate to a dazzling quasi-tropical paradise resort on an alien world, possibly like that seen in Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets. As you watch a colossal cerulean sunset through your sophistical glass fishbowl breathing apparatus, you enjoy an ambrosial indulgence brought to your table by a slender, iridescent being: built on a base of the lavish honeyed florals of those sumptuous earth-imports and embellished with a citrusy pineapple cognac, drizzled with warm vanilla orchid syrup, and topped with a dollop of whipped cream infused with pistachio and heliotrope. Which feels completely extra but also… essential. So the short answer is this is a Poison and Brazilian Bum Bum cream sundae. I always appreciate a scent that feels both somewhat normal, like the kind of gift you might receive from your conservative, straight-laced Virgo mother-in-law but also a little off-kilter, like you can wear it to a meeting of your furry sci-fi satanist bookclub. Not that Soleil Blanc really conjures either of these scenarios, but I guess I just mean it’s sort of the best of both worlds. Maybe the best of all worlds. It’s a treat in any world.
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