Ah, Hanae Mori Butterfly. I'll just admit up front that this was my signature perfume for almost 10 years. I like the EDP or Parfum best - not the EDT. I began wearing it in 1997 or 98, as a 23 year old girl in San Francisco. I carried a Hello Kitty wallet, worked in the videogame industry, dressed in girly little dresses & big motorcycle boots, had a short choppy red haircut and wore butterfly clips in my hair. This scent was PERFECT for me then - it evoked the Japanese-pop-culture-inflected gamine thing I was going for at the time. Now, as a late 30s wife and mother with a more classic style - I feel that I have thoroughly outgrown it - but I still find it charming and adorable.
As for what it smells like - this is a fruity oriental that is quite gourmand in character. Totally girlish and even childlike - and yet somehow it manages to be charming, comforting and a little sensual instead of trashy. (At least I think so - Katie Puckrick calls it "stripper perfume!") It was designed in 1995, when Angel was everywhere and everyone was playing catch up - and it's definitely a sweet, sweet, SWEET gourmand scent that is a distant cousin of perfumes like Angel and (groan, yes, it's true) Pink Sugar - while not smelling exactly like them.
This is essentially a strawberry-almond perfume. The base almond is so sweet that it becomes like marzipan or an almond-paste filled croissant. There is a buttery quality like baked goods. Together, this all gives an impression that's very similar to vanilla bakery + red fruit.
If you have ever been in a Japanese bakery that specializes in French pastry - and they have some of these in San Francisco's Japantown - it smells LIKE THAT.
The opening is HARSH - it has been compared to windex and hairspray by other reviewers, and I don't think they're wrong. It smells synthetic and tart to the point of being astringent. Yuck. Mercifully, this wears off quickly - especially in the EDP and Parfum concentrations, which are far smoother than the EDT and much superior, in my opinion. Top notes are red fruits - raspberry and red currant to begin with - and finally evolving into a strawberry. There's a blended floral heart - I can't put my finger on precisely what - but I think there's a rose that melds with the strawberry, then you get that sweet almond and a slightly woody base.
I find men love this stuff - my husband said I smelled like a "vanilla cookie" when we were young and dating, and a gay male friend once exclaimed "you smell like vanilla witchcraft!" when he went in for a hug. I have had men AND women stop me on the street to ask me what I'm wearing because they want to buy it. So it's got good sillage. It's also incredibly long-lasting - it really does go ALL DAY. So best to go light on the spray.
All in all, a lovely fragrance - but definitely cutesy. This is what Hello Kitty might wear on a date! Charming as all get out - but I think my days of wearing it are sadly over.