Dana Classic Fragrances seems to be in the business of buying up near-dead classic fragrances and reviving them. Yes, they remake them on the cheap, but they also sell them on the cheap, which is more than you can say for Christian Dior. While we might lament the flattening English Leather and Chantilly have suffered on the Dana diet, no one can complain about Love’s Baby Soft and its sisters, Love’s Fresh Lemon, Love’s Rainforest, and Love’s Soft Jasmin body mists. These fragrances were always meant to be splash-and-dash perfumes for those who are barely fragrance literate. If you keep that in mind, you just might appreciate them as much as I do.
First, let’s consider the Love’s bottle. The geniuses at Dana Classic Fragrances (either that, or the cheapos who couldn’t bear shelling out for new packaging) luckily saw fit to keep the old Love’s bottles with their tall, dome-shaped lids and goofy 1970s lettering. Love’s Fresh Lemon and Soft Jasmin feature painted hearts floating up the frosted bottles like balloons at the junior high school prom. The Love’s Rainforest bottle is clear, but is festooned with green vines, which also etch its plastic cap. The packaging is the apogee of retro chic. All we need now is the rebirth of Tickle deodorant — anyone remember that? — and we’ll have come full circle.
Now, on to the fragrances. (Not much I write about the fragrances matters, because they don’t last long enough ever to become scrubbers.) The Love’s Fresh Lemon smells like lemon meringue pie. It’s a little tart, but mostly sweet and creamy, and it manages to avoid reminding me of Lemon Pledge. Revlon Jean Naté smells positively sophisticated next to it. That’s Love’s Fresh Lemon’s whole story. Lemon meringue pie — take it or leave it.
Love’s Rainforest is an ozonic green rose. No wet, crumbling logs and moss here like you might smell in an actual rainforest — just a mix of rose and Issey Miyake Eau d’Issey. It’s clean and fresh and resolutely Clinton administration. Once the alcohol burns off, Love’s Rainforest smells the same start to finish, which is about an hour later. The Dana website notes that the fragrance will appeal to the environmentally conscious consumer, since its bottles and caps are manufactured using recycled materials, and some of the proceeds go to a forest preservation fund. If you ask me, the funds should go to the Pasadena Rose Parade fund.
Love’s Soft Jasmin is my favorite. It’s a powdery, fruity, synthetic jasmine with the texture of whipped velvet. Unlike the other Love’s fragrances, it doesn’t smell “fresh,” just romantic and soft. Seeing that I only wrote two sentences about it, I struggle to come up with a fatter description, but I really can’t. Soft, powdery, light jasmine. That’s it.
The real fun in these Love’s fragrances is mixing them. Thinking of the delicious jasmine lemonade of Amouage Ubar, I layered a spritz of Love’s Soft Jasmin over Love’s Fresh Lemon. Surprise, surprise — it smells nothing like Ubar. But it’s really nice! As dreamy as a tart summer evening. And the best part? Half an hour later you can barely smell it. Thinking of the jasmine-rose headiness of Jean Patou Joy, I layered a spray of Soft Jasmin over Rainforest. This was intriguing, although less successful, and a million miles from Joy. It was a clean, rosy jasmine that, after a couple of minutes, smelled more like shampoo than perfume. To complete the circle, I tried Fresh Lemon over Rainforest. A little bit laundry detergent, but not bad. All in all, I recommend the Fresh Lemon-Soft Jasmin combo over the others.
None of these fragrances lasts longer than it takes to finish a couple cups of coffee or read an article in The New Yorker. I know there’s a school of thought that holds a perfume needs to be persistent to be good. But when I’ve paid less than the cost of a magazine and a double latte for a bottle, I don’t mind if it fades quickly. Some days that’s all I need. I can go for the big guns later.
Dana Love's Fresh Lemon, Love's Rainforest and Loves's Soft Jasmin come in 45 ml Body Mist ($11.50) or 75 ml All Over Body Spray ($5.50).