Notes: Blackcurrant, wild strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, peony, sandalwood, Virginia cedar, Brazilian rosewood, almond tree. Composed by Bernard Ellena. Given a four-star rating in P:TG. Tania Sanchez’ review says, in part, “terrifically trashy cotton-candy idea lifted straight from [L’Artisan] Vanilia… cheerfully bright berry notes… in a classic woody-floral setting… a bombshell gourmand, incredibly rich and strong…”
Okay, so the eponymous Hanae Mori fragrance from 1995, composed by Bernard Ellena, doesn’t smell like its official list of notes. It smells considerably simpler: the overwhelming impression is of mixed berries and powdery vanilla, with a ghostly, cocoa-powder patchouli hovering around the edges. (Please notice, I did not say “ghastly” cocoa-powder patchouli, but I admit the patchouli sometimes troubles me.) If I concentrate, I can pick up jasmine-ylang-rose and a woody base, but I have to smell past the berry-vanilla to get it. Butterfly, though not so named specifically, is often called that because of the butterfly on the packaging: pink for edt, blue for edp and coral for parfum. The parfum is really lovely, very smooth and more wood-focused than the EdT, which can be a bit marshmallowy and is definitely more powdery. I have not tried the EdP. I notice that both the strawberry note and the jasmine stand out to me if I’ve got Butterfly EdT and Dark Kiss on next to each other.
(I love Fragrance Throwdowns for this reason, specifically: comparing two similar scents seems to throw differences into sharper relief, and often I’m able to pick out notes I hadn’t noticed when wearing either scent on its own.)
I actually like this stuff, which shocked the heck out of me because it is So Not My Usual Thing; I don’t really do gourmands. It’s not quite edible, but it’s just barely not- edible – the powdery woody bit keeps it from being something you could eat with a spoon. In the interest of full disclosure, I should also tell you that my teenage daughter Bookworm likes both this and Dark Kiss.
There are not many blog reviews of HM Butterfly, which might be surprising given its continuing popularity (hey, this marshmallow still sells!) Ari at Scents of Self calls it Virtual Kosher Marshmallow, and Katie Puckrik says it “smells like a stripper… a cross between Armani Code and Windex.” I don’t know where she’s getting the Windex reference – and I’ve somehow managed to miss smelling Armani Code, which in any case was released well after Hanae Mori (in 2006, principal notes being orange blossom, ginger, honey, vanilla and sandalwood). Code, by the way, rated one star in Perfumes: The Guide.
Hanae Mori (Butterfly) can be found at just about all the major discounters as well as many department stores. I bought Bookworm a .5oz rollerball for about $18 last Christmas. I located a 1oz bottle of parfum for about $35 on ebay, and a 3.3oz bottle of EdT would probably run you about $50.
I should also point out that I’m not generally comfortable wearing gourmand fragrances outside my house. That is, the genre is so allied with youth and braces and junior-sized clothing in my mind that I feel a little silly wearing a gourmand. This one is one of the better choices, though, and I’ll happily wallow in it if I don’t have to go do something serious. (Tauer Une Rose Vermeille and By Kilian Sweet Redemption are two other floral-gourmands that seem more sophisticated than bubblegum to me, and which I’ll wear.)
Bath & Body Works Dark Kiss
Notes: Bergamot, incense, Mirabelle plum, black raspberry, amber, Burgundy rose, geranium, peony, dark vanilla, labdanum, vetiver, balsams and musks.
First off, I’ll talk about my personal point of view on B&BW: I like scented body products. I don’t have access to LUSH or The Body Shop, so I can’t comment on whether B&BW is better or worse in terms of quality than those other two businesses. And I doubt very much that I’d think first of a scented-body-products company when looking for Serious Perfume. Scented body products are typically so much less complex than traditional perfume that I can often find a bath gel or lotion that complements or picks up some of the notes in a full-blown grand parfum (B&BW’s Moonlight Path goes great with Chanel No. 5, for example, and their discontinued Perfect Autumn Ginger Vanilla is wonderful under, say, Mauboussin or Theorema).
B&BW was, due to budgetary factors, my access to Things Scented for maybe ten years. I could only afford drugstore perfume, and since most of that didn’t smell great to me, B&BW was an enjoyable alternative. I do notice that in the past twenty years, the offerings have gone from mostly non-perfumey smells (Cucumber Melon, Cotton Blossom) and light florals (the long-gone Freesia, which I actually wore on my honeymoon) to sweeter, fruitier, and more gourmand scents. I am fond of Velvet Tuberose, which still sells. They still carry Cotton Blossom, and Freesia has had its lovely muguet note replaced with what seems to be hedione to create Sheer Freesia. The fruity-floral-green tea scent Japanese Cherry Blossom is certainly very popular. However, most of their new fragrances have a big sugar coating or a large helping of fruit. I suppose that’s what sells.
Dark Kiss is certainly in that gourmand tradition, with both berries and vanilla, and although I made fun of it when I first heard the name, it might actually be one of B&BW’s more thoughtfully-composed fragrances.
The first thing I smell when I spray on Dark Kiss – either in the “fragrance mist,” or in Eau de Toilette – is blackberry and plum, a dark fruit accord that isn’t half bad, since it has in common with jam or cooked fruit than it does berry candy. Then, although it’s not listed, some unmistakable patchouli. Then vanilla. I sure-as-heck do not get identifiable vetiver or labdanum, but both the rose note and the peony are very present. I’m not picking out geranium, either. There’s a sweet amber there, but it’s not gooey the way amber can sometimes go (and does, in B&BW’s own truly-disgusting-IMO Chocolate Amber thankgoodnessit’sgone).
I doubt very much that there’s any real rose, vetiver or labdanum in this thing. Incense? I don’t think so. Maybe somebody waved a rose over the vat in the lab, possibly, but real rose oil in the formula? Nope. No way. Not at this price point (I bought a 3-ounce fragrance mist for about $4 on sale, and you can get the 3.3 oz EdT for about $30).
Dark Kiss – which seems to have been named for an element of the vampire craze that swept the teenage-girls demographic a few years ago, along with a little phenomenon called “Twilight” – does not smell dark. It is perhaps not as light and bright as the fluffy Butterfly, but it’s not Gothic at all. Dark Kiss is more floral, and probably sweeter, though its fruit note seems less candied to me than the one in Butterfly. If it had been named Twilight Kiss or Purple Kiss, that would have been a more suitable name. (Unless the Salvador Dali line has a Purple Kiss, which it might: I know they make Purplelips and Little Kiss.)
I’m torn here. Will everyone think I’m a nitwit if I say I like Dark Kiss better? No matter. I do like it better than Butterfly EdT. I can feel my back teeth decaying as I type, but I don’t think I care. Hanae Mori in parfum is more woody and less powdery-fruity, though, and it takes the title in this Throwdown.
I’d love it if readers weighed in here: are you a gourmand lover? Hater? Or do you take the position that it depends very much on how “gourmand” or sophisticated the gourmand is? For example, if the question is, “Would you wear Ginestet Botrytis or Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanille?”, your answer might be yes, but if it’s Aquolina Pink Sugar or Montale Chocolate Greedy, you’d say no?
(For the record, I’m not going to accept the proposition that Shalimar is a gourmand. Because it’s so not. It is vanilla-with-other-stuff, but it is not a straight-up gourmand.)