The long version: KMT starts out with an anise focus set atop a delightful heliotrope-vanilla-marshmallow (ethyl maltol) base. I didn’t think I would like it, until I actually tried it on skin. Yes, it’s sweet. But there is a tender greenish streak through it that lightens some of the sweetness. There’s also a hint of rose and violet, though it isn’t powdery at all.
I like it. I wore it on one of the hottest days of June so far – 101F in miserably-humid Washington, DC weather, on our admissions tour of Georgetown University – and it was quite pleasant. No hint of the huge flesh-eating patchouli-marshmallow of Angel bursts out of Kiss Me Tender, even in the heat. It just smells nice, all cool and sweet like a licorice popsicle. Lasts about 4 hours, not as long as you’d think based on the notes list. I like the heliotrope in it, particularly because it doesn’t go Play-Doh or artificial fruit-flavored. I’ll probably use up this generous sample (thanks, Joe) but not buy a bottle.
This one joins the list of PdN scents that I really like but don’t love enough to buy: Odalisque, Just une Reve, Maharanih, Rose Pivoine, Number One. (The PdNs I adore? Le Temps d’une Fete, of course, and Vanille Tonka, which was the very first niche scent I fell for, and which I still love like crazy.)
Diptyque Eau Rose – Simple, greenish rose with a hint of peony and a hint of green. Very nice. Nothing complex at all. A little old-fashioned, but I like that sort of thing. Pretty, soft, lightweight. Not much to say about it, which probably belies the amount of work that went into it to keep it from smelling like drawer liner paper.
Parfumerie Generale Tonkamande – A not-quite-edible almond pastry. (I love almond pastry.) This scent is milky and tonka-heavy, with just a sprinkle of sliced almonds on top. I was surprised to find the wheat-flour note so prominent.
I don’t know what I was thinking, testing this almond-pastry of a scent in the middle of a heatwave. Oh, it didn’t kill me, not even close – it’s quite nice. And it wears like an open-weave cotton blanket, all snuggly without being overbearingly warm. I was disappointed with the lasting power since it’s so weighted with base notes, but then I was dabbing. And it was hot outside. Sticks pretty close to skin, lasts about four hours.
Mona di Orio Jabu – I have only tested two Mona scents at this point – her Les Nombres d’Or Tubereuse (which I found to be waaaay mushroomy), and this orange-blossom scent, which was created to benefit a South African charity that helps HIV-positive mothers and children. In fact, I wasn’t even going to bother with this scent since I don’t like orange blossom fragrances as a general rule. But a kind friend (thanks, Heidi!) sent me a sample, and because there is tuberose in the notes list, I tried it on skin.
It’s far more complex than I’d expected. Opens with a nice juicy green petitgrain-and-OB accord, and then goes really really indolic-stinky for awhile, making it pretty uncomfortable for me. It’s the sort of stinky I associate with certain jasmine raw materials, though jasmine isn’t in the notes list. (Just yesterday I was driving down the road past our neighbors’ field with the windows down, and thinking, “Hey, do I smell French jasmine? Oh, no – Dale just spread some manure on his wheatfield.”) After some time the tuberose pops up – surprisingly, it takes more than half an hour to show, which is unusual for Take No Prisoners Tuberose – and the big white floral effect of OB-tuberose-ylang is just gorgeous.
Eventually it settles into an oriental-ish sort of base, with vanilla and musk and something that might be myrrh (?), and it’s sort of skanky again in a classic 50’s perfume sort of way. You know, that animal warmth thing that you so often smell in fine fragrance of that era. This is not at all a bad thing, but the changes disconcerted me, especially since my perfumista friends who love this thing often talk about how joyful and effervescent it is. (Curiously, they both live in California. I wonder if the weather makes a difference. Other reviews of Jabu on perfume blogs don’t mention any skank, either. But then I often have issues with jasmine.) This one lasts about six hours, sprayed delicately, and I can imagine it eating your head alive if you spritzed too much.