I snapped this baby up for $3 at the Bath and Body Works Semi-Annual sale. B&BW has a nasty habit of discontinuing its classic fragrances in favor of its illustrious newer scents. You know, the generically fruity ones with names like Dark Kiss Fresh Berry Twilight Edward Bella Cherry Blossom. Rice Flower and Shea is a creamy, sweet scent without much sugar, if that makes sense. It is sedate rather than sparkling. Rice Flower and Shea does indeed smell something like sweetened shea butter, complete with the plasticky undertones that can sometimes be detected in shea butter. If I had to guess, I would say that Rice Flower and Shea was discontinued because it was rendered superfluous by B&BW Warm Vanilla Sugar. They are very similar to each other (and, suspiciously, to Kenzo Amour), but the perkier Warm Vanilla Sugar is more in line with the current trend for fragrances sugary enough to induce diabetes.
Aquolina Pink Sugar may be the official fragrance of middle schools these days, but back when I was a young whippersnapper, our lockers were scented with Warm Vanilla Sugar. Although my middle school days were harrowing in many other ways (you didn’t really expect a four-eyed Star Trek fan to say “I loved middle school!”, did you?), I think that I got the better end of the bargain in terms of the perfume. You see, unlike Pink Sugar, WVS actually smells very nice. In fact, with its vanilla and basmati rice notes, WVS smells almost exactly like Kenzo Amour. Amour wasn’t released until 2006, so it is very clear who was copying whom. WVS is actually a smoother experience than Amour, because it lacks the green floral notes that always make Amour feel “off” to me. Luca Turin writes of Amour, “The irresolution between ‘Eat me’ and ‘Don’t eat me’ is what makes this fragrance great”. Call me unsophisticated, but to me that “irresolution” sometimes makes Amour smell uncomfortably dissonant, not “great”.
In keeping with the “warm” part of its name, WVS is a likable, agreeable scent, so much so that it is actually difficult for me to reconcile its friendliness with the often dreadful girls who wore it. I have very much enjoyed wearing WVS for this review, and fully intend to start saving $50 by buying this instead of Kenzo Amour. I’ll miss the pretty bottle, but I can comfort myself with the humongous range of WVS lotions, body washes, and even bubble baths.