OK, no matter what you think about Gwen Stefani's tendency to fetishize anything and everything Asian, you've gotta admit: Her new perfume bottles are pret-ty darn 可愛い — that's kawaii, which is Japanese for "cute." The quintet comprises the Harajuku Lovers fragrance collection — more details here — and the scents are aimed toward a younger crowd than her first scent, L.

But how do these scents smell? Are you sure you really want to know? If so,


The Harajuku Lovers perfumes ($25–$45) are trickling into stores, and the adorable packaging draws shoppers. Last night I went to Nordstrom to check them out, and a Gwen fan decked out in Harajuku Lovers clothing — we'll call her Megafan — was giddily spritzing her way through the fragrances. I began by sniffing the bottles, and after a few seconds of enduring each fruity-floral mess, I couldn't help but blurt, "I'm sorry, but these are not good."

I thought Megafan was gonna cut me, but to my surprise, she agreed. "Yeah," she said disappointedly. "I'm surprised that they're this bad. I liked her first fragrance, but this is a letdown." We went on sniffing, and then we bravely tried them on our skin. At first spritz, each gave off a burst of alcohol; when the juice landed on my wrist, it made a small scratch sting and burn. "All I smell is alcohol," Meganfan said with a frown.

She's right: These start with a shout of alcohol, then finish with a whisper of actual fragrance. Of the five, Love and Music are the most engaging. The former is a pleasant (if unremarkable) soft floral tempered with vanilla and musk, and the latter is a slightly fruitier take on the same formula. They aren't must-tries in my book, and as for the others? The coconut in G has the grace and subtlety of, well, a coconut dropping on your head. And while the "lollipop accord" of Lil' Angel does indeed mimic candy, who wants to smell like a Jolly Rancher? I could not bring myself to try Baby on my skin, but Megafan declared it the worst of the bunch.

Look, it's clear that these fragrances are meant for a younger consumer; they don't take many risks, they're overly sweet, and the packaging is begging to be placed on a 14-year-old's dresser. But considering how L opened up nicely, it's surprising that these scents hit the skin with a thud. Apparently I wasn't the only one left disappointed; Megafan sadly looked at the cute bottles one last time before throwing her spritzed paper blotters in the trash and walking away.