Aquolina Pink Sugar (2003): It's a Whole Meal {Perfume Review & Musings}



Pink Sugar by Aquolina is one of the most effective comfort fragrances in the world. I stand by this statement which I verify 10 years on. It is a compliment-getter. It is foody and obvious, yet subtle at the same time. You can read that it is,

"A unique olfactory experience interlacing fantasy and reality. The encounter of femininity and inner childhood. The earliest memories in life are also the most addictive. Memories of Cotton Candy tinted with gourmand Raspberry..."...

What I realize as I conduct a "close-smelling" session of the fragrance as you would say "close-reading" is that the success of the fragrance - it is currently completely sold out at Sephora in the US - is not just based on its sugary range of notes but on a complex chamber of echoes of the main taste categories: sweetness, savoriness, sourness, bitterness and "umami," the taste/scent of meat. Plus there are added nuances of spices, green, roasted coffee and flowers. Pink Sugar starts smelling like dessert, and end up smelling like dessert, but more deeply contained within it, it smells like a whole meal. This is what explains to me the blockbuster status of Pink Sugar. It is fully satisfying and satiating. Think of it as astronaut meal compacted into one blend. 


The perfume opens on a splash of caramel-y ethyl maltol (sweetness), roasted coffee beans, quickly spiced up by an accord of tart and sweet raspberry (sourness) paired with tarry black licorice blossom scent (bitterness). Fresh fig leaves add a nuance of green in what develops as not just a gourmand fragrance, but a woody one. Despite its "regressive" program - childhood memories of the iconic fair food candy floss - and its simple name, the perfume is in fact complex. It is historically a heritage fragrance, the child of Angel by Thierry Mugler and Lolita Lempicka edp. It borrows the ethyl maltol- from the first and the gourmand licorice note idea from the second one. 

But what is even more interesting is that if you pay close attention enough, you will be able to catch further unexpected olfactory nuances which are almost foul-smelling. More suprisingly even there are realistic savory sillages which seem to escape from a giant bowl of steamy Pho, the popular Vietnamese soup made out of broth, herbs, white rice noodles and thin slices of pink semi-raw beef meat. Lean in closer and you can smell a nuance of chicken cube and broth. Pink Sugar is also spicy. Pho traditionally uses a bouquet of spices to perfume its broth comprising coriander, cloves, anise, star anise, cinnamon and fennel; this might explain the hot soup association. 

The composition, to make the conceptual idea behind the fragrance more palatable, is using a technique of perfumery which is to never create a perfume which would be uniformly nice-smelling. You simply need some foulness to underscore better the sweetness, a bit like when you pair ripe, animalistic, stronger-smelling duck foie gras and honeyed, spicy gingerbread. You guessed it, Pink Sugar is a comfort perfume but it is also a good one for the Advent period. 

Fragrance notes: Bergamot, Sicilian Orange, Gourmand Raspberry, Fig Leaves, Lily of the Valley, Licorice Blossom, Strawberry, Red Fruits, Cotton Candy, Vanilla, Caramel, Musk, Tonka Bean, Sandalwood, Powder.

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