Friday, March 5, 2010

Kabuki by Tokyo Milk : Perfume Review

Tokyo Milk, just like Bloom Essentials Archive and Lollia is a line created by Margot Elena Wells. Although Lollia, with its romantic feminine appeal already found considerable success (it made it twice in the list of Oprah’s favorite things and was claimed to be one of her favorite gift ideas), it was with her latest line, Tokyo Milk, that Margot Elena piqued the interest and won the hearts of perfume lovers. And that’s no surprise: unlike the dainty, accessible image of Lolia and its focus on floral and fruity notes, Tokyo Milk’s image is edgy and esoteric, a niche curiosity. The scents too have turned quirkier, with notes such as tobacco, woods, teas and spices enhancing the modern blends with an idiosyncratic charm that’s most definitely hard to resist for those of us always on the lookout for something new and fresh to smell.

I’ve smelled about half of the line’s fragrances and they have all, without exception, been extremely gregarious and brash, bringing their message across at full steam. Subtlety and balance is clearly not something that is being aimed for with this line, but while this might sound like harsh critique, it is actually not meant that way: Tokyo Milk’s perfumes have a particular kind of charm and these characteristics seem intended, an attitude that seems to say “I don’t take myself too seriously, but I am terribly charming, aren’t I? Go on then, buy me for a bit of fun, won’t you?”. Given their character, their image and their cheeky charisma, I get the feeling that while many of these have the potential to be hits with older perfume lovers as well (e.g., Poe’s Tobacco for tobacco lovers/collectors), the line will, as a general rule, be more popular with the younger crowd.

Unfortunately, while these are relatively cheap in the USA (either in boutiques where they are sold or via e-tailers), they are quite hard to find here in Europe and more extravagantly priced to boot. I was lucky enough to come across a big sale while in London this past summer, where all of the brand’s perfumes were being sold for about 7 GBP instead of the usual 35 (!! - about 53 USD). The line features many gourmands and since I was at the peak of my vanilla love-affair at the time I had great fun playing around trying to choose one. In the end I went for Kabuki, an exceptionally unique, playful and (perhaps too) youthful scent. The longevity isn’t great (about 3 hours) but the scent makes up for it with its upbeat personality. Kabuki is a rather linear scent featuring a soft, velvety vanilla backdrop full of innocence upon which the other notes seemingly explode. The opening is very citrusy, smelling like an overdose of crunchy white sugar drenched with lemon juice and decorated with the aromatic shavings of the rind. It might seem bizarre that I list the white sugar as a note and even more so that I call it ‘crunchy’ of all things, but yes, Kabuki does smell like sugar and manages to translate the texture as well. Having been a mischievous child who used to cut a lemon in half, dip it in sugar and suck on it until my lips were puckered and red to my parents’ amusement, I feel justified to attest to the realism of this interpretation! Cutting down the sugary-sweet feel of the scent, the addition of bitter grapefruit notes bring a modicum of balance, as well as bringing a sense of maturity to the otherwise playful appeal of the perfume. While I can’t quite make out the purported jasmine notes, Kabuki truly has a very pronounced lychee note and an extremely realistic one at that. I can’t help but think of spring when I smell this scent, perhaps because its happy, exuberant personality is so efficient in bringing across that ‘not a care in the world’ feel the optimistic air of spring always brings in my heart. While this is completely unsuitable for those that don’t like sweet scents (it is very sugary) those that enjoy gourmands should definitely give it a try. While it is undoubtedly sweet in the most toothsome manner, it is quite light and not heavy or overbearing. Wear without fear, even when the weather is warm.

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rebella said...

Hi Divina!

I´ve tried some from Tokyo Milk, but wasn´t impressed. Considering the prica (at least in US) maybe I shouldn´t expect to much either.

But, one of the scents stand out a little, namely Dead Sexy that so much remind me of the old Yves Rocher (limited edition) Nature Millenaire (in the quite ugly brown bottle). That Yves Rocher scent was my signature scent back around the millenium shift. So, I would love to have a little bottle of Dead Sexy just to remind me of that time and it´s scent.

Do you know of any European retailer that sell through internet and ships to Sweden?

Oh, and the bottles are really pretty!

Divina said...

Yep! I got one! Here you go:

Well there's impressed and impressed :) As I say in the review, sophistication is definitely lacking and they are more 'for fun' perfumes. But when it comes to 'for fun' perfumes (e.g. Demeter, Crazy Libellule & the Poppies) these are *really* good I think :)

Aaaaaah Dead Sexy, that's one I REALLY wanted to try (cause it's focused on vanilla!) but they didn't have it at the store where I bought Kabuki. If you buy it send me a sample? *makes puppy eyes* I'll send you other samples you want in return :) Err, that's forward of me, sorry :)

rebella said...

Of course I send you a sample if I come across a bottle of Dead Sexy. :)

Anonymous said...

A bit too loud for me. You know how you sometimes describe perfumes as trying to grab your attention when you wear them? This is my impression of Tokyomilk! Although I tolerate this "attitude" from some of my favorites like Shu Uemura and Fracas, these are not special enough to make concession for! :-p

I didnt smell all though yet. How about the honey one? Lately I think I would like a honeyed floral? (with more attention on the honey and maybe floral accents)