Hanae Mori Butterfly : Perfume Review

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Elisa on stress and the gourmand ways to fight it.

I suspect there are those among you who, on an especially rough day, derive comfort from an elegant classic like Chanel No. 19 – perhaps because your mother wore it, or perhaps because the orris, vetiver, and galbanum are cool like a hand on a fevered head. I can claim no such level of sophistication. My comfort scents are the equivalent of crème brûlée, which is to say, sugar and fat: perfume as mouthfeel.

hanae mori

I was recently in one of those moods, what Holly Golightly would call “the mean reds,” when such a palliative is called for, and my mind immediately went to Hanae Mori. The original Hanae Mori for women, sometimes known as “Butterfly” due to the bottle design, is a first-generation gourmand. Created by Bernard Ellena in 1995, just three years after Angel, Hanae Mori borrowed the apparently new idea of layering fruit over caramel, but skipped the massively pungent patchouli note that made Angel so shocking. Butterfly, instead, was content to be pretty.

Spray it on and you’ll smell a facsimile of a fruit tart from a French bakery: berries arranged just so and glistening with apricot jam. The primary fruit note is strawberry, but it’s more abstract than literal – like a pop-art painting of a strawberry. This big pink glow is offset by a deliciously creamy base, all the materials chosen for richness. There’s the custardy aspect of ylang-ylang, the milky aspect of sandalwood, plus a toasted almond note like nuts in a graham cracker crust. It’s not just melted sugar (ethyl maltol), but caramel sauce with butter and cream.

It might all be too much, but what keeps Hanae Mori on the right side of history is the delicate florals – rose, jasmine, peony – and a slightly sharp, soapy green note, similar to the dish-soap note in Rochas Tocade but with half the intensity. This is just enough of an edge to remind you this is a grownup perfume and not a pre-teen body spray (or an actual cupcake). To be sure, you need to like gourmands to wear this; if you do occasionally have a perfume sweet tooth like me, this is one of the best.

Hanae Mori “Butterfly” includes notes of black currant, wild strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, peony, sandalwood, Virginia cedar, Brazilian rosewood and almond tree. It’s available at stores like Macy’s and Sephora for $130/100 ml and $99/50 ml.

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40 Comments

  • Sandra: I love butterfly! Easy to find and get a sample at sephora.
    And sometimes I do love to smell like a french bakery and day dream about being in one.
    Speaking of No 19 you mentioned in the beginning , it would of been Coco Chanel birthday yesterday. I wore 19 poudre in her honor. My first grown up fragrance was Chanel and I was 22. Still a loyal fan after 10+ years August 20, 2014 at 7:17am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Sandra, I’m happy to hear from another fan! And happy belated birthday to Coco. (Chanel Egoiste was one of my first perfume loves at age 15!) August 20, 2014 at 8:55am Reply

  • Patricia: Not kidding, I actually intended to wear No. 19 today, but in honor of your review will pull out my old bottle of HM’s Magical Moon and give it a good spritz or two (after yoga class!).

    Great review, Elisa 🙂 August 20, 2014 at 8:58am Reply

    • Elisa: Ah, lovely! Thank you Pat! August 20, 2014 at 9:01am Reply

  • Masha: My students absolutely loved this when I wore it. “Our teacher smells like cookies!” Too funny, but it kept me calm and it’s great with the youngsters. August 20, 2014 at 9:26am Reply

    • Elisa: Of course they do!! I support the youngsters wearing this one. August 20, 2014 at 9:29am Reply

  • zari: For me it is Shalimar – giving comfort, strength, and a “chin-up” feeling for when the day is going to be stressful. Thanks for your fun review. August 20, 2014 at 9:44am Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks, Zari! Come fall I’m going to break out my vintage Shalimar EDC. It’s so beautiful. August 20, 2014 at 9:59am Reply

    • solanace: For me too! Shalimar is the perfect combination of elegant confidence and yummy. August 20, 2014 at 2:16pm Reply

  • Karen: This was one of my first perfume addictions! I went through 3 bottles before moving on to something else, which now I can’t remember. I loved it and now my daughter loves it (after giving her a sample, along with several others). August 20, 2014 at 9:52am Reply

    • Elisa: 3 bottles is impressive! I don’t think I’ve gone through three bottles of anything. If I do run out, I’m definitely buying more. August 20, 2014 at 10:03am Reply

      • rainboweyes: I think I’m on the seventh bottle of Hiris now, I’ve been wearing it since 1999.
        But it’s not my comfort scent and neither are gourmand perfumes. I usually reach for incense scents (AP Dzongkha or Iris Nazarena in cold weather or Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel in the summer). August 20, 2014 at 10:42am Reply

        • Elisa: Even more amazing.

          I’m wearing incense today — Passage d’Enfer. I think it’s appropriate for summer since it’s very clean smelling. August 20, 2014 at 10:44am Reply

          • rainboweyes: I’m wearing it today too, what a coincidence 🙂
            I took a decant for my vacation in Spain and it’s gorgeous in the heat! It will be one of my next purchases! August 20, 2014 at 10:54am Reply

            • Elisa: Ah, we’re scent twins! I’m also traveling with a decant, but sadly for work, not vacation. August 20, 2014 at 12:48pm Reply

  • Hannah: I don’t like the perfume, but I’ve always liked the bottle. August 20, 2014 at 10:24am Reply

    • Elisa: Well at least that’s something! 🙂 August 20, 2014 at 10:29am Reply

  • Alicia: Once I had a decant, and now a vague remembrance that I liked HM, but when it came to buying the bottle, I bought Lolita Lempicka. August 20, 2014 at 11:20am Reply

    • Elisa: I like that one too! I have more than a few gourmands in my collection… August 20, 2014 at 12:48pm Reply

      • allgirlmafia: I love Lolita and Angel. They so volumptuous and delicious they’re almost palpable. Any suggestions for others as thick and striking as these? August 20, 2014 at 9:43pm Reply

        • Elisa: Even Angel isn’t as “thick” as it used to be. Have you tried L de Lolita Lempicka? I love that one. You might also like Chinatown. August 21, 2014 at 10:21am Reply

          • allgirlmafia: I have not tried L (but I googled it last night!) it does sound like its worth a sample.

            Never tried Chinatown, will have to google that as well. August 21, 2014 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Christine: I love Butterfly. It’s not a foodish smell at all. In fact, it’s a soft, floral, creamy smell that makes me feel like a fairy princess. It’s youthful, pure, long lasting. Try it on your bed sheets and you’ll sleep like an angel. I’ve never smelled anything like Butterfly.

    Five star all the way. August 20, 2014 at 11:53am Reply

    • Elisa: I do think the creamy aspect is what makes it so appealing. August 20, 2014 at 12:49pm Reply

  • Michelle: I was introduced to Butterfly by a saleslady at the Cosmetics Plus shop at the World Trade Center in 1996. I was looking for something new and she asked me what was my favorite perfume. I said, “Shalimar.” To which she replied, “If you like Shalimar, you’re going to love this.” She was right. August 20, 2014 at 12:34pm Reply

    • Elisa: That’s great! I once met a man whose wife wore Pink Sugar and he wanted to get her something new so I suggested Butterfly. August 20, 2014 at 3:16pm Reply

  • Victoria E: I was so excited to read your review on BUTTERFLY……..I have this and I love it…..I keep a roll on in my purse. It truly is sweet and lovely and makes me smile….happiness to all…………. August 20, 2014 at 1:56pm Reply

    • Elisa: I’m glad to hear it! August 20, 2014 at 2:18pm Reply

  • solanace: I totally have a sweet tooth, and will enjoy trying this. Thank you for pointing it out, Elisa! August 20, 2014 at 2:19pm Reply

    • Elisa: You’re welcome! I hope you like it. It’s nice to have a good, floral gourmand without patchouli in the base. August 20, 2014 at 2:20pm Reply

  • Poodle: I’m a fan of this one too. I almost wore it today as a matter of fact. It does satisfy the sweet tooth when a craving for that type of perfume hits. There’s so much more than just sugar though which is why I like it. August 20, 2014 at 8:19pm Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Poodle! I wish I had some with me to wear right now! I’m traveling — I should make a decant from my bottle. August 21, 2014 at 10:20am Reply

  • Anne: Elisa, I have a bottle right here by the computer…right HERE! One of a less-expensive “3-for” I scored on eBay that hasn’t made it to my bedroom yet, and may not. (That, with my 2.5 EL Tuberose Gardenia I finally re-purchased a few weeks ago, I am in Heaven. My two faves!) I adore Butterfly (EDP)…I feel I can actually “taste” it…a true “mouth feel”, as you said, but not like you accidentally got perfume in your mouth…this is in a good way…do you know what I mean?
    I think the reason I love this so much and not things like Angel is the patchouli…it doesn’t do well with my chemistry at all. August 21, 2014 at 12:05pm Reply

    • Elisa: We have similar taste — I also LOVE Tuberose Gardenia!

      The creamy, woody vanilla drydown is unusual since so many gourmands have a patchouli base these days. Have you tried the original Juicy Couture? It has a really nice warm base as well. August 21, 2014 at 12:56pm Reply

      • Anne: I haven’t, Elisa, but I will! Thank you. August 21, 2014 at 1:44pm Reply

  • visha: I love BUTTERFLY !
    Recently i discover HANAE from the same brand … Thescent is amazing… sweet and fresh ! God I LOVE those perfumes !!!

    Did you smell HANAE? April 15, 2015 at 7:59am Reply

  • Shaye: I love your review! This was my first real perfume – I only buy it as the perfume! It has been in my collection for so many years, and it was what I wore when I met my husband. So many lovely memories! I have a bottle still in my collection, but admittedly do not wear it as much as I once did. I think I may wear it tomorrow, though! April 25, 2015 at 6:16pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Shaye! I happened to wear this yesterday! April 26, 2015 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Julie: Hi Elisa,
    Good morning…I used this perfume for a few years (96-99) and loved it! Great review & a lovely photo. My question, have you tried Hanae Mori Eau De Collection No 4 Perfumes, 5, 6, 7? It goes up to 8? I just may have to give it a another sniff. 🙂 So many pretty butterfly bottles to choose, so little time! Have a great weekend Elisa and thank you.:) May 1, 2015 at 8:55am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Julie, I have tried a couple of that line, but not all of them and not multiple times. In general I think the Hanae Mori line is well done. 🙂 May 1, 2015 at 2:57pm Reply

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