Created in 1996, Hanae Mori's eponymus scent* is as young as my daughter (which is a perenial if not a "classic" in current perfume lifespan terms) and is about as girly as could be. It is probably the fragrance that have set the trend for the myriads of sugary fruity-florals that dominate the celebrity scent world. While Angel and Lolita Lempicka had sweet notes that sugar-coated a very bold base dominated by patchouli and vetiver respectively - Hanae Mori's goes straight to the candy.
The beginning is somewhat fresh, with hints of crisp apples, and light citrusy rose and strawberry. But cotton candy is the true star of the show for the next few minutes. Creamy heliotropin creates an almondy nuance, and alongside strawberry-flavoured saltwater taffy, it is hard to imagine a little girl who won't like it. It envelopes with a smooth, sweet (and not sickening, yet) aura of fun-loving innocence. It took the gourmand sweetness of classics such as Eau de Charlotte (based on chocolate and cassis) to a new level of exaggerated sweetness. After a few good minutes, the rose peeks out of its hiding place. Rose that is slightly green, yet also sweet and juicy-citrusy. It reminds me of the insane Japanese bubble gum I had long time ago, the one that turns your skin into a rose-smelling bed of red hives. Another interesting element that comes out is sandalwood. So perhaps this is not entirely sugar and fluff. More vanilla and sweetness will come along further as it develops on the skin. It's a little too sticky-sweet to my taste, and without enough darkness to sustain my interest (I like sweet, but I also like a bit more of an edge to a scent - which is why I so enjoy L by Lolita Lempicka - the warmth of the cinnamon and the hint of immortelle really balance all the vanilla and musk overload).
In hindsight, this perfume is quite fun and original for its time. But after coming across so many celebrity scents with the same formula (nondescript flower + random choice of fruit + vague musk + arbitrary piece of wood) and the same premise - it did lose a fair amount of its lustre. Add to this the fact that most similar scents can be found for ridiculous sums, while this remains a bit of a high-end fragrance, I imagine is a bit disillusioning for Hanae Mori fans.
But of course, there is more than something to be said about the marketing and cultural aspects of a fragrance, and Hanae Mori has and will remain a cult fragrance. Not only because it was one of the first of the gourmand fruity-florals genre; but also because of its packaging, and because a rectangural bottle with a chunky, asymmetric top and what looks like a butterfly sticker slapped on it by a little child is I suppose irresistibly cute. Or shall I say Kawaii?
Top Notes: Wild strawberries, sweet blackberries, blackcurrants, bilberries**
Middle Notes: Bulgarian rose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, French peony
Base Notes: Rosewood, almondwood, sandalwood and cedar
* Usually referred to as "Hanae Mori Butterfly" because of the butterfly print on the bottles and/or boxes. There are pink, blue and red butterflies - each colour corresponding to the concentration level: Eau de toilette (pink), which is what this review is based on; Eau de parfum (blue); and parfum extrait (red).
** Bilberry is really the European version of blueberry.