Perfume Review & Musings: Magical Moon by Hanae Mori


Magical Moon is the latest perfume launch by the grande dame of Japanese haute couture, Hanae Mori. It makes its debut eight years after the design brand's previous fragrance creation, Haute Couture. The name of the perfume is said to be inspired by a flower harvesting ritual that takes place according to an ancient lunar calendar. The festival of Tsukimi or moon-viewing and the representation of a rabbit to be found in the moon reveal enduring beliefs in the magical character of the moon in Japan. The Nordstom site tells us that either in reality or in a dream or perhaps in an atmosphere evoking a little bit of both "Magical Moon was blended in a vat lined with blue moonstone. It was bottled under a full moon." It specifies that "Hanae Mori celebrates the rising of Magical Moon, the first fragrance whose creation was ruled by the moon..."

The fragrance offers a superb polished feel. I cannot help but note that just like Soir de Lune by Sisley which took about the same amount of time to bring to completion it seems to have benefited from the attention devoted to it instead of having been rushed due to multiple competing perfume launch projects. It is almost as if time itself allows perfumes to undergo a process of technical refinement as if having been sifted through a conceptual sieve...

The bottle, especially the stopper itself, is a work of art. The flacon was designed by Pochet Glassworks. I day-dream that the stopper could have been designed so that it could have been used as a pendant fillable with a small dose of perfume. It looks so much like a glass jewel. I find its charm to be slightly mystical...magical and especially in indigo color, reflexive. It looks better in reality than on the picture.

As one lifts the beautifully shaped hollow round glass cap of the Magical Moon flacon one experiences the most exquisite fume of sandalwood spiraling out in the air like a scented silken ribbon the movement of which is reminiscent of those young Chinese gymnasts tracing a delicate choreography in the air with fluid red ribbons. The textile metaphor runs throughout the perfume as is not surprising and best describes to me the feel of the perfume. The sandalwood has the finesse of fine incense laying on a sweet and subtle bed of flowers and fruits. Magical Moon feels like a tightly woven fabric printed with a wealth of delicate fruit and flower motifs. It could also be likened to a precious stone due to its multi-faceted aspect brought about by the complexity of the notes or more precisely a shimmering material which would be jewel-like. I later recall that Hanae Mori is famous for her richly decorated textiles full of butterflies and flowers. Inspired by the traditional Japanese art of kimono weaving, her couture collections and now latest perfume reflect her aesthetic beliefs as well as her life experience. Brought up in a small village she recalls how "The winters were very cold, while the summers were very hot with fields full of flowers and multitudes of butterflies."The silken and luxuriant impressions left by these souvenirs were transported into the realm of fashion and Magical Moon is like the print of a luxurious kimono as well as a refined aesthetic manifesto from Hanae Mori.


The opening of the scent is fresh with candied undertones and even deeper woody notes supporting the architecture of the scent. A subtle patchouli arises with facets of berry fruits. The fruity scent segues into a luscious creamy floral accord resting on a slightly savory cocunut milk note as well as on rich guava nectar. The scent deepens and becomes richer while being contrasted with a drier counterpoint of patchouli and cedarwood. The floral note that dominates, to my nose, is the tea-like plum-y scent of osmanthus.The blend warms up further developing its creaminess to the full and then, slowly, from the impression of wetness and succulence emerges a sensation of dryness and spiciness; a very light and refined veil of incense and sandalwood emerges from the unctuous concoction that just titillated your nose now suggesting the most refined of textures to your imagination. A seductive subtle cedarwood adds its slightly fleshier presence to the dry down. In the end, your skin is sweetly scented and made to feel more innocent-smelling by the lasting impression created by a gentle and subtle powdery accord that evokes an interplay of fruits, vanilla, candy, and spices, all very refined. The perfume, to me, can certainly support the idea that it reflects Hanae Mori's biography which appears slightly dual, a simpler childhood transfigured into refined adulthood.

(A wedding kimono by Hanae Mori)


Magical Moon thus manages to use sweet comforting notes such as sugar cane, cotton flower, and tropical fruits but to give them a sophisticated and refined aura thanks to the very fine textures of the incense and sandalwood. The perfume conveys a message of refinement both for the senses and the mind through appeal to the dual quality of notes like sandalwood and incense evoking both sensuality and contemplation.

Notes are: Osmanthus Flower, Porcelain Rose, Sugar Cane, Cotton Flower, Coconut Milk, Vanilla, White Musk, White Sandalwood, Red Cedar, Incense, Litchi, Patchouli, Pineapple Pulp, Guava Nectar, Star Fruit, Frangipani, Orange Flower absolute, Chili Pepper and Pink Berries.

Magical Moon is currently exclusively sold at Nordstrom.

(A Hanae Mori design)

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24 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Wait... how late is the store open?


    Question -- the Hanae Butterfly fragrance they have on the website, have you smelled it? The bottle is gorgeous, although less so than this one. This one I would like to own even just to look at!

  2. March,

    Yes, I have but only on a blotter. It smelled great as well, very soft, on the sweet side, and delicate. I thought that I'd probably want to get a bottle of it.

  3. Thanks so much for the detailed review!

    Strange Accord
  4. Strange Accord,

    You're most welcome. Hope you like it!

  5. I'm running to Nordstrom to test this one this weekend.

    Love those HM designs you posted, too. The kimono, especially, is stunning!


  6. Hi Vi,

    It's a refined scent; unless you're averse to fragrances that are a little sweet and fruity chances are you'll appreciate it.

  7. Back from Nordstrom, reeking of all three concentrations ;-) I am waffling btween the EDP (more woods) and parfum (more incense.) Either way, it is lovely.

  8. Hi March,

    You make me want to try the parfum. We don't have a Nordstrom yet in Boston but it's coming soon, either this fall or next spring.

  9. Mimi- Thank you so much for your detailed review. I am a huge fan of Hanae Mori and have loved her Butterfly fragrance. So much in fact, it's the only scent that I have EVER finished until the bottle was empty. No kidding!

    Your in-depth write up about this fragrance sure drew my attention.

    I went out and purchased the EDP on Saturday and love it. I think that this is my new love!

    Nordstrom's was so kind too to give me a free purse atomizer which they said is a gift with purchase of the new fragrance...while supplies last.

    I hope you have a chance to try this fragrance. It's subtle yet sexy. It's drawn a lot of attention (I work in a hospital) and have had many compliments...but it's not overbearing at all...

    I love it. Please keep up the great work. I enjoyed reading about this and am so thrilled to have the Magical Moon EDP! I bought the large bottle only because I just knew I would love it.

    Do you know if they will come out with a body cream or lotion to match?

    Thanks again!

    Michellene Fryson
  10. Mimi- they gave me a couple of EDT samples. I can send them to you if you'd like!


  11. Hi Michellene,

    Thank you very much for your encouragement. I am very glad that you found a new love:)

    It certainly remains for me to try the pure parfum version.

    I'll see if I can get more information about the rest fo the line.

    Have a great day.

  12. Michellene,

    That is very kind of you. If it is not too much trouble, I would love too. I could add a note about the edt version in the review.

    I'll email you my address.

    Many thanks!

  13. Oh it's no trouble at all!!

    Just email me your address! Thanks!

    I called Nordstrom's to see about the lotion or body cream...they told me that it's made to go with Hanae Mori Body? I have no clue what that is! Does she have a regular body care line? (Some fan I am and I didn't even know about this!)

    Share info when you can!

    I will get the samples out to you very soon.

    I haven't had a chance to check email (been at work like ... now!)

    Have a great week


  14. The EDT samples went out today.

    Hope you enjoy them!


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  17. My boyfriend got this for me on his recent trip to paris, I love it and best of all he loves it on me. such a rich fregrance. wonderful!!

    emily jolly
  18. There really is something Magical about this fragrance. I was working at an upscale ladies clothing boutique here in Dallas and one day at work, I smelled this intoxicating aroma and literally followed it throughout the store until I figured out which woman was wearing it! :) It was like a spell had taken over me...seriously!! The woman told me it was Magical Moon by Hanae Mori and that they had just launched it at Nordstrom. I told my boss I was taking my break early and flew down to Nordstrom where I bought a bottle...I am addicted to it! It never fails- wherever I go, someone always comes up and asks what perfume I am wearing. It's magical! :)

  19. We don't have a Nordstroms in Omaha....any way I can get a sample??? Or is there another store that sells this??

    Julie Chamberlain
  20. Julie,

    I believe I have seen it recently in an online discount store. Yes, you can find it at Scentiments for $32.

  21. Hi Mimi! I love this blog of yours, I'm always looking for good perfume reviews to help along the decision making process.

    Question: Have you tested Calvin Klein's 'Euphoria'? I've heard many good things about it, and am debating on whether to purchase that or Magical Moon (for a refined lady of 55 with a love of the patchouli scent).

  22. Hi Lisa,

    Thank you for your kind words!

    I've tested Euphoria but have not lingered on it although my initial impression was good. My sense is that if your keyword here is "refined", then Magical Moon would probably be more on that side of things. It is also less ubiquitous than Euphoria so it might convey better a feeling of being a bit more "recherché". In the end, I would say that Euphoria smells younger. Magical Moon is more ageless and feels more "precious".

    George Sand is another refined patchouli perfume I'd recommend (check our review of it).

  23. Thanks so much for your feedback Mimi, it means a ton! I'm so happy I found this blog. You'll definitely hear more from me down the road. :)

  24. You're welcome:)


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