Of all the products I’ll ever feature on Fragraphilia, I’m fairly certain that TokyoMilk soaps by Margot Elena will be the one that I’ve probably used the longest. I’ve been buying them so long that I can’t even remember exactly how I first stumbled upon them. My mostly hazy best guess is some time around 2003-2004 at Anthropologie while shopping with a friend. Back then, Anthro was my best source for luxury soaps as they were one of the few options in my area that carried a wide variety but also rotated new ones in regularly. It was where I first found Claus Porto, Mistal, Barr-Co, and so many others. The best part of all was how they’d discount them significantly a few times a year. I would go in during each sale season and buy up handfuls at no more than $4 each, most of the time a little less. Those were the days! In more recent years, they’ve started carrying fewer lines, but you can still find a few new discoveries here and there.
TokyoMilk was one of the first that really stood out for me during that era and it has remained one of my favorites ever since. Like so many products that I bring into my life, I was immediately drawn in by its packaging. Each bar features a thick paper wrap using rich pops of color, metallic inks, and a touch of glitter for their beautifully detailed illustrations representing each fragrance. Open them up and you find what appears to be a train ticket and the alphabet molded on to the top side. I’d love to know the origin of both the ticket and the alphabet. Regardless, it’s a really nice touch.
Despite the details found within these beautiful scenes, the branding itself is rather limited and none display a name or description of the fragrance itself. The illustration is how you tell them apart, and for a long time with months in-between purchases, I had to smell each bar first to make sure I had the right one before I finally memorized each based on the packaging. Years later I realized that of the 8 scenes within the line, there are really just three fragrances based on perfumes within the line. Tour Eiffel, Waltz, and Woman with Music are all the same. Birds, Dragonfly, and Bees are another. White Flower and Yellow Flower round out the final grouping.
My preferred choice was always the first group: Tour Eiffel, Waltz, and Woman with Music. Due to my fondness of Paris, and the easy to remember Eiffel Tower illustration, Tour Eiffel was the one I always selected. Margot Elena lists the notes as linden, honeyed rose, wisteria petals and white musk, which certainly promotes it as very floral, but I find it to be little softer than other soaps and perfumes that feature similar descriptions. The honeyed rose tempers the flowery wisteria and the white musk gives it a warmer, powdery base. It’s a really nice balance that never goes completely in one direction or the other. It’s like those first few weeks of Spring when the flowers are just starting to bloom but just before they leave a layer of pollen over everything and trigger your allergies.
Dragonfly, Birds, and Bees feature notes of green apple, Japanese bamboo, vetiver & white musk. To me, they provide enough familiar notes to Tour Eiffel that make it a good second option but in a much lighter version. The fragrance doesn’t last as long and it fades as you use the bar. The green apple is listed first but to me it hides perfectly (and thankfully) behind the other much more prevalent notes.
White Flower and Yellow Flower consist of citrus zest, rosewood, mimosa & mandarin. The citrus isn’t overwhelming but I’ve never enjoyed citrus scented soaps and lotions on any level so they’re always a pass for me. However, if you do enjoy such fragrances, I believe you’ll be very happy with this selection. The citrus found here doesn’t feature that synthetic orange punchiness that so many other citrus soaps tend to deliver. This is more creamy with just enough rosewood to give it some woody and floral balance.
No matter which TokyoMilk you choose, the one thing you are assured is that you are getting an incredible value with this triple milled soap. The lather is rich and the shea butter leaves your skin moisturized and healthy. The bars are thick and last anywhere from 2-3 weeks of daily use. I don’t find them on sale very often anymore but at $12/bar they are well worth the full retail price.