An Unlikely Love: Hilary Duff “With Love” Perfume
The idea of combining mangosteen (no relation with the mango) with spices, flowers and sweet amber in a single perfume sounded like it might go into “Escada” territory (sugared, fruity mess). I didn’t have high hopes for this fragrance at all but decided to just spritz it at a perfume discount store for the heck of it.
Hilary Duff’s debut fragrance “With Love”, named after one of her songs (note to Marketers: please don’t name something you can sell for at least 10 years after something that becomes –at best – passé in a few months), is a surprisingly sophisticated and exotic little gem that is not at all teenybopper fragrance.
Created by: 2 perfumers whose scents you are VERY likely to have already smelt…
- Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Clinique Happy, Donna Karan Black Cashmere, Peace Love & Juicy Couture)
- Stephen Nilsen (Madonna Truth or Dare, Vera Wang Lovestruck, Sarah Jessica Parker Dawn)
Top notes: Spices, Mangosteen
Heart notes: Cocobolo Wood, Mangosteen flower
Base notes: Amber milk, Amber musk (wut?)
Despite the notes, this is not a sugar-bomb, fruit-bomb or spice-bomb of a fragrance.
I’d say the opening is quite translucent, despite the presence of spices and mangosteen (no relation to the mango). This is more how the velvety, white flesh smells sitting in its leathery shell after you tear it open – delicately sweet and slightly exotic – than how it tastes (intensely tart and sweet). You also get a soft, generic “allspice” type of note adding some complexity and depth without being too in-your-face. Then again, if you’re not used to spices this might smell more obvious to you.
Soon, it blooms into a honeyed floral heart (mangosteen flower), accompanied by a contrastingly dry, almost-mossy cocobolo note which adds a dash of fresh masculinity, and reminds me somewhat of sandalwood. (Cocobolo wood comes from Central America, and is used often for musical instruments, chess pieces, and expensive flooring). This is the point where my liking turns into outright love, as it’s complex and warm without going into Opium territory or Shalimar territory.
As it develops, everything warms up and gets milkier and cozier. I’m not sure what “amber milk” and “amber musk” are. Just imagine a glass of milk with a dash of smoky vanilla and a pinch of spices, sitting on a cocobolo wood table in the sun. It’s tasty but tasteful, and would work for dates, class, and the office.
This is not a girly-girl scent and a lot of people find it quite unisex.
One gripe? The bottle cap is a little finicky. Other than this, I do kinda like the retro feel.