Tanoko Tonic is a small operation of candle making, perfumery, and compounding of essential oils for therapeutic applications, based out of Mansfield, Missouri. Their fragrances typically come in oils a la attars, or compounded into alcohol like a Western perfume; but without any added water, perfumes worn this way end up projecting highly and feeling mostly like extraits or attars when finished settling on skin. With Vintage Floral Delight by Tanoko Tonic (2022), the brand seeks to capture the familiar feel of old-school feminine floral fragrances from about the mid-20th century, which means sweeter and a bit more ambery than the rakish sharp things from the 70’s or big musky aldehyde bombs from before WWII. This distinctly prim and effeminate postwar idealized woman in all her domestic goddess glory is seen these days as a vestige of patriarchy in Western cultures (particularly the former US middle classes), but damn if Grandma and her old “Suzie Homemaker” aesthetic didn’t know how to smell terrific. To be fair, Vintage Floral Delight is not a strict exercise in bringing the old Avon or Coty perfumes of the period back from the dead, and does have a lot of modern quirks of its own, not to mention a certain fundamentalism inherent from being an artisanal fragrance. Brands that don’t pay attention to established practice or style are always the most fun.
The opening of VIntage Floral Delight is sweet, unsurprisingly so, but not sugary like modern takes on sweetness, no ethyl maltol overdosing as it were. Bergamot and neroli provide most of the lift, that is then used to convey a classic rose and jasmine tandem made greener from an old-style orchid accord, before Tom Ford co-opted that note to his own designs. Vanilla is here, patchouli too, but a clean iris and musky ylang round out then smooth what could otherwise be earthier elements of this perfume; this is the modern part I was talking about, and Vintage Floral Delight avoids being powdery or animalic with big doses of civet or sandalwood. The latter material is suggested, alongside a cleaner wood facet of cedar, but this is polished in more of a Calvin Klein late 80’s way than a 1960’s Dior way, if that makes sense. Ultimately, Vintage Floral Delight is a watercolor impression of vintage women’s fragrance more than a direct deconstruction of it, and Tanoko Tonic takes this Claude Monet approach to the finish-line of amber, tonka, and very linalool-heavy clean. The skin scent of Vintage Floral Delight lasts forever and is almost sparkly, and wears best in spring to my nose, with great projection from the alcohol-based formula tested. I haven’t smelled the oil to really speak on it. Best use is probably just for yourself, no context suggested by the perfume brand nor really needed.
My favorite aspect of Vintage Floral Delight is the potpourri sachet qualities it presents on skin, which itself is sort of a vintage thing because who still scents their home with potpourri anymore? The dry, fresh, clean, slightly-spiced flowers that emanate from Vintage Floral Delight remind me of visits to Grandma (once again), and perhaps that is the real “vintage floral delight” of the fragrance; it isn’t a reminder of vintage perfume worn by people years ago, just a reminder of how flowers in general were presented long ago in homes of our fallen domestic Goddesses. The rose for me is the dominant floral, so rose lovers probably will like this best, and as the brand themselves suggest, Vintage Floral Delight is going to be a challenge for all but the most open-minded guys when it comes to gender roles in fragrance. There is little a man with conventional heteronormative tastes can latch onto with Vintage Floral Delight, but that doesn’t mean male lovers of perfume should avoid sniffing; just take into consideration that you may smell more of Grandma’s house than you may care to if you walk into the office sporting this perfume. For me, that is a non-issue, and the only complaint I can conjure if any, is Vintage Floral Delight is something I’d rather smell in the air via candle than maybe on myself; but I’ll settle for my own skin because I like what’s here that much. Thumbs up