I'm a city-loving, sun-averse individual who doesn't even own a bathing suit, and I can't remember my last visit to a beach. (Oh, wait, there was that weekend in Montauk. In April 2006.) Despite, or perhaps for, this very reason, I find myself testing beach-themed and tropics-themed perfumes more often than you might expect. The latest such fragrance to cross my desk was a sample of Sarah Horowitz Coconut Milk, a recent release from this California-based independent perfumer.
Coconut Milk, the latest addition to Sarah Horowitz's "Perfect" line, includes top notes of coconut and almond, heart notes of orange blossom and gardenia, and base notes of tonka bean, vanilla, and Egyptian musk. It's a fragrance that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. Its coconut accord is milky with a hint of green, and it doesn't remind me at all of the suntan lotions of my youth, thank goodness. The coconut, which lasts throughout the fragrance's development on skin, is followed by just a hint of creamy gardenia. There's also a breath of Egyptian musk that reminds me of the oils my college friends used to buy from street vendors, although it's silkier and more polite in this context. The tonka note is almost caramel-like, and the dry down swirls notes of almond and vanilla into the coconut, so that the fragrance ends on a muted gourmand note.
Coconut Milk is smooth and well-blended. It might not be not as sophisticated as Ormonde Jayne's tropical-floral Frangipani Absolute, for example, but it's subtler and (to me) more wearable than the coconut-themed offerings from companies such as Lavanila and Pacifica. If it were a beverage, it would be an "artisanal" piña colada that uses real coconut milk and substitutes orange-flower liqueur for the canned pineapple juice. If we ever designated a "California school" of perfumery, this scent (and probably most of the Sarah Horowitz line) could serve as an example: casual and clean, but polished. (I've never lived in California, so if I'm talking complete nonsense, feel free to say so.)
I remember trying a few fragrances from Sarah Horowitz when the brand was still called Creative Scentualization; my favorite was Love Comes from Within, a spicy rose-carnation-musk blend. That would probably still be my first pick from the line, but if I'm in the mood for a soft tropical-cocktail fragrance again soon, I'll dab on more Coconut Milk. The perfume oil version that I tried has good staying power and low sillage, making it suitable even for office wear — "your own personal paradise," as the company website promises.
Sarah Horowitz Coconut Milk is available as Perfume Oil (6 ml roll-on for $40) and Eau de Parfum (15 ml for $40, 30 ml for $60). Matching body products are also offered. For purchasing information, see the listing for Sarah Horowitz under Perfume Houses.