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.
Since 1994, the perfume division of the revolutionary fashion house, Comme des Garçon has established a long running history of pitting items found both in nature and technology against each other to develop some of the most challenging and unique niche fragrances. With their Clash – Series 10 collection released in 2019, the tradition successfully continues with three intriguing options: Chlorophyll Gardenia, Celluloid Galbanum, and my favorite, the punchy yet warming Radish Vetiver.
There was a time in the late 2000s when I was able to look beyond the perfumes and colognes you would typically find on the shelves at department stores and beauty shops located in the mall. Luxury and niche fragrances became more available in Dallas when Barney’s opened one of their largest stores here in 2006 (RIP). The store was two stories with beauty and fragrance occupying the front half of the first floor. It was the first place located in my peripheral that offered fragrance lines like Frederic Malle, Comme des Garçon, Le Labo, and Byredo. It was the latter that eventually drew me in the most. In 2009 alone they released both Baudelaire and Bal D’Afrique which became and remain to this day two of my all time favorites perfumes.
As with all Nasomatto’s fragrances, Nudiflorum perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri is not interested in breaking it down for you. You won’t find a list of notes included with the packaging. The vague description provided on the official site is limited to a handful of words that read romantic but really don’t tell you much about the scent itself. When asked to describe the composition in an interview with Wallpaper he responded defiantly, “Why ask me? People always need to explain everything, to understand, to give a reason to things. Sometimes, you just need to feel it“. It’s a sentiment I agree with entirely. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, why should it be any different for the nose?
I think we can all agree that soap plays an important role in our daily lives for obvious reasons. Not nearly as vital as food and drink of course but every bit as necessary as clothes when it comes to weaving yourself into the fabric of civilized society. Whether your ritual is a nightly bath or the morning shower, soap plays the most significant supporting role in your (hopefully) daily self-cleansing act. Why not give it an award winning turn? Which is why I love Patchouli by Fresh, a truly magical blend of earthy scents that never overshadows and leaves plenty of room for the acts that follow.
The world of fragrance is full of brands that have released signature scents inspired by libraries, jazz clubs, and all sorts of locations steeped in tradition and legend. I know the intention is not to be so literal but I’m usually a little disappointed when they don’t smell like the places in which they are named. I would love a scent that captures that all too familiar scent of old books. As for jazz clubs, I guess you wouldn’t want it to smell like cigarette smoke and gin. Everything, of course, is subjective and everyone’s interpretation is determined by their individual experience. However, in the case of Burning Barbershop, I do have very specific memories from childhood and what I believe to be an accurate memory of how they smell.