Sherlock March

The day before we left Bangkok, I went down to breakfast at the hotel early and alone. As usual, I was greeted by the hostess, an elegant young woman in a long, formal Thai silk skirt. While she penciled me in, I smelled flowers. I took a speculative sniff at the tropical bouquet right in front of me. Nope. I looked around hopefully … where are those flowers? I tried two other arrangements in the room, one of which was fake. So then I, using my deductive reasoning skilz, asked the hostess: are you wearing perfume?

As you know from previous posts, I´m capable of stalking a room full of people in order to sort out who´s wearing the fragrance I caught a whiff of, and then I´m not shy about asking what it is. The hostess said in response to my query that yes, she was wearing perfume, but couldn´t pronounce it. She wrote down Moschino. I was so happy to get an answer I forgot to ask which one.

When I went to Siam Paragon in Bangkok for a sniff that afternoon, I was surprised to find eight fragrances – five for women and three for men. The only one I could remember smelling was Cheap and Chic, and that whole concept – the Olive Oyl bottle and the scent – was offputting, and although the company´s done some memorable advertising I don´t know anything about the clothing. The fact that I mix Moschino up with Mossimo (or whatever the Target house brand is called) doesn´t exactly compel me to explore the Moschino oeuvre. But, faced with the stunning information that this delicate young woman in front of me was wearing Moschino, and it smelled not like perfume but a floral arrangement, I had to.

The SA in Siam Paragon said the two most popular were Couture and Oh!, so I started with those.

Couture (2003, notes of Mandarin, Bergamot, Pepper, Yellow Poppy, Jasmine, Pomegranate Blossom, Poppy Seeds, Vanilla, Cedar, Benzoin) has its fans, but I found it overly sweet, with too much vanilla. Gorgeous bottle, though. If I were a vanilla fan, which I am decidedly not, I´d give this one a whirl.

Oh! (1996, notes of Italian Bergamot, Tangerine Peel, Brazilian Rosewood, Living Pink Lotus, Wild Cyclamen, Yellow Living Water Orris, Living Indian Pink Waterlily, Chinese Peony, Wild Muguet, Madagascar Stephanotis, Heliotrope, May Blossom, Florentine Orris, Sandalwood, Musk) seems a more likely candidate. It´s a bright, sparkling scent, green, and with a fairly strong note of muguet. (An aside: why am I often fond of fragrances on other people with notes, like muguet or rose, that I can´t stand on myself?) But it didn´t seem quite like the missing fragrance, somehow. I was smelling a bouquet. Oh! is very much a Perfume – the musk note in particular would be a tipoff, but maybe, having missed the citrus opening…

Cheap and Chic (1995, notes: Calabrian Bergamot, Petitgrain, Yuzu, Rosewood, Living Baghdad Nimphea, Cyclamen, Living Wild Rose, Egyptian Jasmine, Peony, Water Flowers, Violet Flowers,Living Vanilla, Orris, Bourbon Vanilla, Musk, Living White Orchid, Mysore Sandalwood, Tonka Bean, Grey Amber) smells … well, cheap. Other commenters on Basenotes raise the same issue that struck me: there´s something very synthetic about the way it smells. I´m not opposed to weird “manmade” smells – I like SMN Nostalgia, for instance, and several of the weird CDGs, and I love the peculiar notes of Gucci Rush – but Cheap and Chic smelled like those scented rubber toys, or possibly melting plastic. It can´t be that one. Also, living vanilla? Grey amber? Snerk. Are the folks at Basenotes having me on? The whole “living” thing works my last nerve.

Cheap and Chic I Love Love (2005) – I can´t find the notes, but this seems like a citrus flanker to the original, and I find it more appealing. Light, effervescent, grapefruity, fun, reminds me vaguely of Light Blue, gone in 20 minutes.

Moschino by Moschino – the original fragrance from the line (1987, Galbanum, Tagete, Freesia, Honeysuckle, Gardenia, Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Nutmeg, Clove, Pepper, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Amber, Musk, Vanilla) A total shocker, reading those notes – definitely not the one I was looking for, but the winner of the bunch. As Patty would say, squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! The in-your-face sap-sweet florals are beautifully balanced by the spices, sandalwood and musk. It´s quite close to a unisex fragrance – a man could definitely wear it. Wow. I was expecting some big-shoulderpad thing, but it mimics my favorite earthy bits of MDCI´s Invasion Barbare and my current addiction Courtesan. The bottle´s supposed to be reminiscent of a wine bottle, but it´s … not. In fact, it´s kind of ugly, particularly that big ol´ fake pearl detail on top. I wish it were in the Couture bottle.

I think all these scents can be found dirt cheap ($30ish) online at various e-tailers.

Moschino ads: I love the whimsy in the I Love Love ad, and the Cheap and Chic ad is the sort of image I’d have taped to my bedroom wall in my 20s. And is anyone else old enough to remember the harp seal ad? I think Moschino was (he´s dead, right?) a big animal-rights fan.

  • Katie says:

    You’re so dead-on about I Love Love’s resemblance to Light Blue. My sister likes both (she’s a cedar addict, frankly) but she says she prefers I Love Love because it replaces Light Blue’s lemony bit with a fruit punch concentrate note. The downside is she quickly becomes utterly insensible to its strength, and ALWAYS ladles on the juice over the course of a day, instead of judiciously spritzing. Sigh. Yet I rarely object, because the alternative is that she’ll be wearing LB, which pains me.

    PS. Doesn’t “Grey Amber” sound like the stage name for an elderly stripper?

    • March says:

      Katie — I smelled this again at Sephora yesterday, and ILL (great abbreviation!) smells so much like LB. I think I prefer LBs citrus, though.

      Grey Amber would be an excellent stripper name.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Grey Amber might sound like a pretentiously named fake accord, a la “pink musk” or “living rice flower,” but it’s just the literal English translation of ambergris.

    It’s been so wonderful reading about your trip! I would love to something like that someday.

    • March says:

      Well, thanks — that seems a lot less stupid, and of course that’s the literal translation.

      Living vanilla you’ve got to admit is pretty silly, though. Although I notice “living” in a lot of the notes… I wonder why they don’t describe things as “dead”?:-? I mean, that’d be novel, wouldn’t it?

      I want to travel again, soon. But not too soon.;)

  • Ina says:

    March, I used to wear Oh! and loved it to pieces (and always got compliments, too). It was the scent I picked right before coming to the U.S., so, it has deep romantic associations for me as well (met my DH wearing it). I’m thinking it was probably the one you smelled.

    • March says:

      Oh! seemed the most right to me, factoring in skin chemistry, etc. And I love reminiscences about a fragrance from someone’s past. Those associations can be so lovely … having worn Champaca until my decant ran out in Thailand, I think that’s my Thai perfume.

  • Marina says:

    Some people can make the most boring scent smell wonderful. My aunt-in-low once wore something that I would have sworn was an Ellena scent I did not know. It turned out to be Light Blue. Go figure.

    • March says:

      Hah!!! I know what you mean — like that lady I ran into who made Elizabeth Taylor Passion smell so amazing.

      And one of Diva’s friends wears one of the more insipid Ralphs (Hot? Blue?) and it smells stunning on her — both really good and niche. Go figure, indeed.

  • judith says:

    Never smelled any of these, but I will definitely try Moschino now. And I am pretty sure I am even older than you (memorieeeees. . .)! I still have some clothes with enormous shoulder pads in the back of my closet (and of course, my hair is still in spirals: I’m surck with it; no perm) 🙂 Welcome home!

    • very old judith says:

      Actually, what I am saying. I have seen your picture. Of COURSE I am older than you!!!

    • March says:

      It’s so good to be back. I missed my refrigerator. And my bed. And my perfume closet.

      These are a fun sniff but, to be honest, I wouldn’t kill yourself looking for any of them.

  • Gaia says:

    I’m joining Tom Above, plotzing with memories. The original Moschino is somehow connected in my mind with the original Bijan and everything late 80s. I thought I was SO sophisticated…

    • March says:

      Bijan!!!! That’s hilarious. Plus all the women from Dynasty. I can’t think of the 80s without thinking of the shoulderpads. I am sure I have some fabulous cocktail party photos somewhere of me in something ridiculous. And I had a Ralph Lauren ankle-grazing winter coat with shoulders so big you could have worn a football uniform under — I am SO SURE you can picture it, worn with some loooong, spiral-permed hair;) I thought I was da bomb.

  • Lee says:

    I’ve never smelled any Moschino scents. More laziness than deliberate avoidance, though I’ve enjoyed hearing about your adventures. I do remember when I was a urban young thing (we’re going back a while, folks) Moschino being everywhere in Covent Garden…

    Right, I’m off to meet the lovely Louise. And tomorrow I’m seeing a woman about a dog. Squeeee.:d

    • March says:

      Oh, hugs!!! Have a great time with Louise!!! I hope you have some good sniffage. She’s a doll.

      Somehow you and Moschino … picturing it, picturing it …


      Um, no. Too trendy/flashy (trashy? flendy!)

    • Maria says:

      Lee, I’m hoping really hard that a cutie of a dog will soon join your household! [-o< You and the dogster will be lucky beings to have found each other. Have fun with Louise too! People are going to start talking about you and your penchant for redheads. :d

  • Maria says:

    So, March, you weren’t able to figure out which fragrance the hostess had been wearing? Isn’t that frustrating?

    I saw some Moschino scarves earlier this summer at a Nordstrom Rack. They had the sort of kitschy design that was used for the Olive Oyl bottle. They were cute. But I didn’t want to pay that much for cute. Even ending up at the Rack didn’t bring them down enough.

    So glad you’re home safe!

    • March says:

      Pls see my comment to CH above — I’ve decided it was probably Oh! That seems the most likely choice.

      Don’t get me started on designer logo-cutesiness. I regularly see things at Nordstrom and NM that I think…. who would pay that for something that’s appropriate for a 16YO (who shouldn’t be able to afford it)? OTOH there’s a whole crew of girls here wearing legit (albeit low-end) designer in their early teens, like Juicy, which aaaarrrrgggggghhhhhh I’ll stop now before my head explodes. Why can’t kids be kids?

      It’s nice to be home.:)

  • CH says:

    I’ve tried “Oh” and found it to be decent. “I Love Love” lasted about 3 minutes on my skin. Nothing bad, just quite watery. I never really was into any of the Moschino scents. They remind me too much of shopping at Ulta.

    • March says:

      I think “Oh!” was probably the one she was wearing, and it just smelled a little different on me — plus, she’d been wearing it, presumably, for some period of time, so I was smelling the drydown.

      We only got Ulta a couple years ago, and I was underwhelmed./:) I can’t quite sort out the demographic, but clearly I am not it.

  • tmp00 says:


    That totally brought back memories- my ex used (and smelled wonderful) in Moschino pour hoome. I’ll have to try it again- it was a wonderful peppery lavender.

    • March says:

      FLASHBACK!!!!! Aren’t those fun? I’m sad to say I didn’t get to the men’s fragrances; I was in a hurry to meet Noy (for an outrageous final tea at the Erewan Hotel.) Given how much I liked the women’s, I’ll keep an eye out for the men’s.