Two men are holding hands and leaning against each other on a subway train. One is holding a bootleg Pikachu toy. The other has his arm draped around a giant plush monkey seated next to him.
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Escada launched Candy Love in 2020. It was the first in a collection of perfumes called Love. The Loves are fruity formulas that are basically indistinguishable from Escada's summer limited editions, which have all been fruit since Tropical Punch launched in 2001. But instead of putting them in the classic elongated heart bottle, Escada put the Loves into bottles shaped like regular love hearts.

And you know what? These love heart bottles are great. The bottle stands on its cap. It's top-heavy but does stay upright. Perfume fans living on seismic faults may want to buy a stand for it. The heart is a very rich shade of pink with a smaller red heart in the middle. It looks a bit like a cartoon representation of a character's heart beating when they experience love at first sight. The bottle isn't flat like a cartoon, though. It's a nice, thick puffy heart that feels comfortable to hold. The Escada brand name is impressed into the cap on both sides of it, and etched into the metal of the atomizer. It's easier to read the atomizer than the cap. Not printed anywhere on the bottle is the name of what's inside it. Even the manufacturing info sticker on the bottom doesn't say that this is Candy Love. There are only two other Loves as I write this, but if Escada Love turns into the new summer limited edition, there's going to be dozens of the things to have to keep straight.

My bottle is the 3.3 oz., and it came with a vinyl makeup bag. Unlike the bottle, the bag has Candy Love's name on it.

Candy Love was inspired by carnivals. The bottle is a totem of Candy Land, an alternate universe/social media campaign where teen girls have fun and make friends in an endless whirl of rides and sweets - preferably in that order, for the sake of Candy Land's janitorial staff. Escada's website sez: "The adventure begins with a gourmand and addictive Candy Apple accord, evoking a laughter-filled funfair, leading to a delicate Rose Centifolia heart that colors this delicious journey with its feminine scent. A delightful Vanilla Whipped Cream note brings a touch of sweetness to envelop the fragrance in a creamy embrace."

That note list is non-sequential and asymmetrical, but accurate. Candy Love is dominated by a lurid red hard apple candy note so sweet and intense, it provokes glassy textural sensations in your mouth. If you want to jump a rank or two on the apple scale, try using Candy Love as a prop as you visualize - you'll see a candied apple instead of a regular one, but it's a guaranteed 5. It also lasts all the way through the drydown. The rose smells fresh, like a garden rose. It and the vanilla emerge around the same time, about half an hour in. Candy Love remains balanced heavily towards apple for the rest of its duration, which is three-ish hours. It's not complex, but it is three-dimensional, and that's just as good.

Candy Love hits all of its targets. It conveys its theme literally by smelling like carnival treats (and maybe being a bit dizzying) and figuratively by being a lot of fun. It has respectable tenacity. The bottle is adorable. What happens when you hit all the targets? You win the big prize! Which on this website, is a positive review. I candy love Candy Love. Escada has produced enough fruity perfumes by now that when I say it's one of their best ones, it means something. This was a great start to their new series.

- 12/11/23