Ex Nihilo Sweet Morphine

morphineDior’s Poison came out the year I graduated from college and got my first full-time job. I went from broke college student to less-broke working gal and started playing around with new looks. For me, Poison was love at first sniff. Over the next couple of years I worked my way through a large stoppered flacon, feeling all edgy and dangerous in my giant-shouldered suits and spiral perm. Then the 90s came along and ruined everything with CKOne and its minimalist greige good taste. Me? I’m more of a maximalist.

I’d be a liar if I said my initial devotion to Poison had nothing to do with its name or image; I’m sure if Liz Taylor had bottled it in one of her frosted glass flacons and called it Sparkling Pink Rubies I’d never have given it a first glance, much less a second. I’m glad Poison went on to be heralded as a classic by the likes of Luca Turin, but it could just as easily have all the prestige of Bijan or Giorgio. At this point, I’d still love it. It’s a long term relationship.

So when I was tempted to violate my no-snarky-reviews-of-indie-scents personal code of honor recently, I reminded myself of the whole Poison thing, and how of course the name and the image are part of the game.

Paris house Ex Nihilo (“out of nothing”) brings us, and I quote from their website,

“SWEET MORPHINE, the embodiment of a self assumed but ambivalent femininity, at once delicate yet lascivious.

Its floral bloom metls (sic) on the skin with a dark and addictive woody vanilla background.

A subtle bouquet tenderly perverted by a very captivating carnal lightness.”

The juice is more vivid than that photo, closer to the hue of the generic-fruit-flavor cough suppressant I used to buy the twins, with roughly the same visual appeal to me.

The scent itself? An almond-cherry-vanilla that brings to mind Jergens original, which I happen to like, and about which none of the following words would apply: lascivious, dark, tenderly perverted (!), or carnal. Delicate? Possibly. Addictive? Sure. But addictive like eating Froot Loops in your snuggie, not addictive like morphine, I don’t think.  Smelling this, I am indeed the embodiment of a self assumed but ambivalent femininity, in that I’m going to spritz on something else now.


  • Sariah says:

    Oh goodness you wore Poison? To me that one fits its name and I can’t wear it. I like Jergens too, I bet you can still buy a bottle for the price of a sample of Sweet Morphine. Love your funny review of the fragrance and add copy.

  • HeidiC says:

    This review had me laughing so hard I shook the cat off my lap! I’m definitely a maximalist in my scents, too — but I find perfume advertising copy to be like menus: the more language they feel they have to use to make something sound appealing, the less likely it will be. Thanks for taking the bullet for us (at least it was an inoffensive if boring bullet?) — I would have been lured in by a perfume with a name like Morphine.

  • Fleurious says:

    Great review. Spot on. It IS astounding that typos like that can get past so many editors!

  • Rina says:

    I can’t get past the typos… (not yours, dear March!)

  • Tiffanie says:

    Perhaps it would be tenderly perverse if I took a bath in Sweet Morphine? Despite (or because of) the name and the fragrance notes, I am quite curious to give it a sniff. But I am not a fan of Froot Loops, so there’s that. Thanks for the giggle. 😀

  • Ellen M says:

    I love that you are a maximilist(sp.?) I am also and find that the attempt to take mild fragrances and make them sound “naughty” is really sad and for me, misleading. Give me Opium, Cinnabar (yes I like them both), KL, and of course Poison. I continually hunt for the “big” fragrances.

  • Musette says:

    I wondered about that one, since ‘morphine’ would suggest something much more …lethal. I love the heck out of Jergens (which is why I love Heeley’s Amandiere) but I would be sooo irritated if I opened up this Morphine Dawg and got Jergens! I was hoping you’d gotten something ‘swoony’. Alas

  • Maya says:

    I agree that the name is silly but I’m surprised at what you get. Almond and cherry? This is one of those perfumes where I actually get the notes listed: lilac, iris, wood, vanilla. It’s a lovely lilac on me. All those that I know that tried it get a strong lilac also and like it to one degree or another. The boring drydown is what is keeping me from getting a FB, but not a decant now and then. 🙂

  • eldarwen22 says:

    What a name! Sweet Morphine is just as bad as calling a perfume Arsenic (Tokyo Milk). This one would fall into my category of ‘just nice’.

  • Ann says:

    Fun review, darling! Who comes up with this stuff? Goodness, somewhere out there someone is getting paid (big?) bucks for creating that. Not sure if I could do it, big bucks or not.
    Although when you first started talking about Poison, I got all excited thinking you’d found a contemporary version of it. 🙂 I loved it, too: a gorgeous scent, those sultry ads, and that lovely rounded bottle with the clear top, oh my!

  • Portia says:

    You make me laugh.
    Portia xxx

  • sarahpatto says:

    Hah! Great review March. Sounds like “Sparkling Pink Rubies” would have been a good name for this one!

  • cinnamon says:

    Sigh. It’s like the noir named fragrances that aren’t the least bit noir: all karma and no substance. The colour is … not something I think would generally be associated with a substance that causes somnolence and is meant to be a pain killer (this is more migraine inducing). Poison: my 80s fragrance was Opium, the advertising for which was wonderfully spot on.

    • March says:

      Yeah, “noir.” It seems to mean: we added some vanilla and spices, whaddya think? (I think I wandered into Yankee Candle.) Poison and Opium could both be named Sweet Morphine. And the Opium ads were fabulous. (I’m more of a Cinnabar girl meself, but Opium is wonderful.)

  • Nadine says:

    I wore it one day last week and was so disappointed 🙁

    • March says:

      Well, yeah, if you were expecting something that matched the name. If this was called, I dunno, Pink Cumulus, I could work with it.

  • MaureenC says:

    Tenderly perverted? Oh dear. Fifty shades of badly written Mummy porn has a lot to answer for! It’s worth a look at their website, apparently they are “inspired by both the creative avant-garde and the French spirit of pure refinement” as well as lots and lots of other deep and meaningful things. If you want an example of the triumph of surface over content by people who take themselves very, very seriously look no further!

    • Deb says:

      Five-star response, Maureen. (And that’s out of five.)

      “I’m tenderly perverse.”
      “Actually, you’re cough syrup.”

    • March says:

      In general I find that my appreciation of a fragrance is an inverse relationship to the folderol on their website. The fact that this one contains a typo makes my eyes roll even harder.