Love and Crime by Ex Idolo

A scandalously enjoyable fragrance inspired by a prison break wedding cake – what’s not to like about that?

Listed notes

Pink pepper, red mandarin, floral notes, baking sugar, star anise, cocoa, vanilla sponge cake.

Top notes

Love and Crime by Ex Idolo is a scent that is inspired by the story of a prison break. Allegedly, May Coyle, the lover of criminal, Thomas Howard, baked saws into a wedding cake she was allowed to take into prison, thus allowing them both to cut their way to freedom. You’d expect a scent with that sort of inspiration to be heady, intoxicating, perhaps a little bereft of its senses, not to mention sweet, cakey and moreish. Thankfully, Love and Crime is all those things and more…

The first thing which will be immediately apparent upon spritzing Love and Crime is that this is certainly no shy and retiring wallflower of a scent. It isn’t aggressive either, but as soon as the fragrance hits skin a beautiful plume of citrus arises. This is soft, rounded and lemony. It somehow manages to combine both a tender feeling and a luminosity which is radiant and uplifting. It calls to mind someone making lemon biscuits and this part of the fragrance is the cook grating the zest of the lemon and sifting icing sugar into a bowl simultaneously.

The pink pepper facet isn’t too “in your face” but it contributes to the warm and sunny tone that Love and Crime opens with nicely, giving the scent a bit of energy and lift from the skin.

Heart notes

Some fragrances appear to rush very quickly from their opening phases to what comes next but Love and Crime doesn’t. Instead it moves slowly, unhurriedly from that citrusy start to the more gourmand aspects which follow. It’s a scent which languidly ambles along as if it has all the time in the world. And maybe it does.

Full presentation of Ex Idolo’s Love and Crime

The citrus gradually melts and, when the floral parts of the fragrance come in, there is a touch of soapiness for a moment or two. This passes quickly and we arrive at the true gourmand heart of the perfume. Again, the combination of lingering citrus, the breath of florals and the newly emerging baking sugar call to mind those lemon cookies only now they are being shaped into round disks, ready for baking. Sweet, they have just a little bit of a tang under the surface – enough to make the mouth water a little in anticipation.

There’s something lingering under the surface of the composition, however, which belies this sugary sweet confection type aspect, something which smells excited, on tenterhooks, almost like the buzz of adrenaline. At times this un-named facet smells slightly metallic and I wonder if the perfumer is referencing the metal of the saws baked into the sweetness of the cake?

Base notes

The final phase of Love and Crime, when it is eventually arrived at, is very sweet. This is oodles of vanilla, sugar, and all those things that are bad for you. There’s a cakey, biscuity, crumbly texture to the scent which speaks of it crumbling under eager fingers. This contrasts pleasantly with the more juicy aspect of the citruses we observed at the start to provide an interesting counterpoint. Between the two textures, a third lies – that of the oozy vanilla which feels sticky here and interesting.

At times, Love and Crime also leans a little towards a sort of marzipan-type feel, sticky and sweet. Nuts aren’t listed as a note, but there is a definite warm nuttiness in there to give this feeling, but it is nuts subsumed by sugar, pliable and tactile.

It would be nigh on impossible to get through a review of Love and Crime without commenting on the sweetness of the fragrance. It is most definitely very sweet, undoubtedly too sweet for some, but for me the sweetness is offset and made enjoyable by the citrus, the textures and the slow-moving side of the vanilla. Don’t approach this fragrance if you don’t at least have a bit of a sweet tooth though.

The final phases of the wear leave us with a lingering vanillic sweetness which feels charmingly naive and deceptively vulnerable, but look closer and the fragrance has a real sense of depth and resonance which make it an interesting and satisfying wear. Part luminous verticality, and part sticky resonance, Love and Crime feels like a scent in a class of its own.

The other stuff

Ex Idolo don’t appear to have revealed who the perfumer for this fragrance is.

The longevity of Love and Crime is excellent, lasting eight to ten hours following an application.

The sillage – or projection – of the fragrance is pretty substantial, so it’s one which you can go easy on the trigger of. With a reasonable number of sprays it will project to beyond handshake distance, trailing very effectively too, so worth bearing that in mind when deciding where and when to wear it.

The brand

Ex Idolo are one of those brands who are far too aloof to put any information at all about themselves on their website. We know that they are UK-based, but anything else aside from that is just marketing gumpf and not really tangible. Given the increasing appetite for consumers to know about the ethics, ethos and vegan/cruelty free status of the fragrances they consume, it feels like a missed opportunity for the brand to not give us a bit more than they do.

According to Fragrantica, Love and Crime was released in 2018, but is still described on the Ex Idolo website as being part of the “new collection” so take from that what you will.

That being said, Love and Crime is good enough to do the talking for itself.

Buy it

Love and Crime is available from Lucky Scent/Scent Bar NYC where it is priced at $125 USD for 30ml of EdP.

In the UK, Love and Crime can also be purchased from Les Senteurs for £125 GBP.

I purchased a full bottle of this fragrance at my own cost after trying it, in person, at Lucky Scent/Scent Bar NYC.

Header photo by Deva Williamson on Unsplash, images of the product by The Sniff.


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