A woman in a chemise on a bed peering through window blinds
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I'm a fan of Britney Spears's first fragrance, Curious. It's a true fruity floral, as opposed to the fruity gourmands that dominated her later releases. I finally decided to buy a bottle of Curious's one and only flanker, Curious In Control. In Control Curious? I'm not sure what order the words go in. I'm sure I got it, though. In fact, I'm wearing it as I write this. I suspected it wouldn't be very floral, but I was also in the mood for celebrity frivolity and was not vulnerable to disappointment, so it was time to strike that iron.

In Control has more sexually aggressive marketing than Curious. The box has a picture of a partially-unizipped catsuit. The bottle is the same faceted saucer shape as the Curious bottle, but done in black glass with a pink neck and cap. The black is plenty dark, but not opaque. You can see the liquid inside if you shine a strong light through it. Early bottles had a nameplate hanging around the neck. Mine doesn't. I'm not going to go on a full rant about cheapening bottle accessories right now. I need to save my energy and anger for that rant for a Juicy Couture review where I am gonna absolutely flip my shit on them. But it doesn't matter as much here. The In Control bottle's darkness could use a little more breaking up with that nameplate, but it also looks good without it. Losing the accessory isn't dire. Not like with the Juicy Coutures. Of all the tightwad shit they- no! Not now.

When I first spray In Control on, it has a wonderful effervescent effect like when you put your nose close to a freshly-poured soda - a nice one, like an artisan cola or chinotto. It's a little acidic, but more enzymatic than it is acidic. It has a strong fruity topnote that is allegedly loquat. I'm going to have to come back to this review for a comparison when loquats are in season. I grab some from local trees every year, but In Control doesn't remind me of them. On Fragrantica, 'sweet notes' are represented by a photo of candies that look like Dots in the thumbnail (they are not Dots). I was thinking that In Control's opening smelled like Dots, but also wondered if that photo had simply gotten into my head. I bought a test box of Dots to check it against. It wasn't in my head! In Curious's fruit note is strongly similar to the inside of a box of Dots. Also, I now get to eat some Dots. Was this review an elaborate scheme to get some Dots? Think about it.

Alongside the fruit is a wood note that contributes to the 'nice soda' scent profile. The wood note seems to come and go during the opening, then stay steadier through the drydown. The fragrance becomes creamy and sweet over the next hour. This, I think, is mostly the orchid. I say "I think" because I'm not well-acquainted with orchid as a note. I have some orchid absolute that smells similar. Maybe that tells the whole story there, regarding orchid. This deficiency in my olfactory intelligence is frustrating. I did a few head-to-heads with other Britney perfumes. I should have done a head-to-head with my orchid material. Maybe I'll come back another time for that.

Orchid or not, the last phase of In Control is vanilla-y gourmand notes. "We've secretly replaced this fine perfume's vanilla base notes with tonka crystals. Let's see if they notice!" It fades away as a delicious, creamy pudding, sticking close to the skin for another couple hours after the fruit and wood (and orchid?) are gone.

I ran In Control against Curious and Fantasy to compare them. I wanted direct comparisons because In Control reminded me more of Fantasy than Curious. I wanted to be sure. While orchid may technically be a flower, In Control just does not come off as a floral perfume. Apart from the sweet candy opening, it doesn't smell similar to Curious - Curious doesn't let you go home wondering if what you smelled in the middle was flowers or not. There are flowers. You will remember that. In Control is more similar to Fantasy, both being fruit-forward mildly woody desserts. It wasn't a favorable comparison for Fantasy, which has a persistent acidic top note I don't like. In Control's burst of fizz is both friendlier and more fun. Come to think of it, I like it better than almost all the Fantasy flankers I've tried as well, and it's probably neck-and-neck with the exception. Well, there you go. That's what it has in common with Curious that makes it more Curious than Fantasy.

I originally wanted some more direct kinship between Curious and In Control, but I am happy with what it is. It's lovable, fun, easy to wear, the drydown is comforting, and the bottle looks like a weird UFO on my desk. I might even use it up. I have no better place to say it, so I'll tack it here at the end: pink light through blinds is a motif from the video for Britney's song "Perfume." In "Perfume," it's used as a visual sign for Fantasy. It suits In Control, too.

- 9/29/20