Curve Crush for Women Eau de Toilette by Liz Claiborne Review

Collage of Curve Crush for Women and its notes, including milk, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, cherry, tea, vanilla, and cardamom.

This one makes me think of that nursery rhyme:

“What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice
That’s what little girls are made of.”

Robert Southey, maybe?

Curve Crush embodies the soft, diffuse, comforting sort of sugar and spice and everything nice that little girls are apparently made of. This isn’t a realistic or challenging spicy scent; instead, it’s a milky and unbelievably soft ode to simple comforts, like a pile of fluffy white blankets wrapped around you on a cold and rainy night.

Though perhaps overly simplistic and definitely distinctly 2000s, Liz Claiborne’s Curve Crush is a scent that was original in its time and stands its ground today as an inexpensive comforting concoction to this day. Carlos Viñals and Pierre Negrin have composed a lovely, distinctive soft gourmand scent that’s lactonic without being weird and spiced without any harsh edges. It’s a respectable feat how soft and fluffy this scent is, sweet at its center without getting too cloying or in-your-face about it.

Six fancy chocolates from a luxury candy sampler, including white chocolate, pink chocolate, dark chocolate, and a caramel.

In the vial, Curve Crush smells almost like an extremely aromatic milk chocolate candy with strong notes of cherry, almond, and vanilla. The sorts of notes I’m picking up remind me of the suggested notes in fine chocolate and coffee but concentrated. There’s a general spicy texture to it, but no particular spices jump out at me.

Right when I apply this, I have to give it a minute or so for the intense perfumer’s alcohol scent to burn off. After the intensity of that, I feel a little anosmic to the perfume itself, struggling to find the opening. The projection’s fainter than I’d expected from the get-go, but after a few seconds of adjusting you should be able to pick it up.

The projection and lasting power of this one are definitely a little less than some other Liz Claibornes, like Curve Chill for Women and other fragrances of a similar caliber, but I don’t really mind. It carries nicely for most of its lifetime in heat and humidity, but stays closer to the skin on cold and dry days.

Seven makeup contacts filled with crushed and broken pink powder of various shapes and sizes.

At the beginning and around the edges, I get a hit of that 90s floral baby powder sort of scent, but thankfully it does not stick around as long or project as far as it does in other similar concoctions, which keeps it from getting too headachey for me, but it still sticks out as something that maybe wasn’t necessary to this otherwise spicy, milky, warm aroma. Nonetheless, perhaps it adds a little something to the impressive utter softness of this scent.

Once you get past the alcohol blast and the obligatory floral musky baby powder note, there’s a delightfully fresh and crisp cardamom-tea-with-sugar accord going on in the opening. It’s sweet but not overbearingly so, a touch spiced in an indistinct, muddled, warm sort of way. There isn’t really an explicit tea note I can pick up here as much as a general suggestion of a decadent warm beverage. If this is a tea drink, it’s more milk and sugar than actual tea.

For a minute, the effect of the gourmand notes is almost chocolatey — not quite like actual chocolate, but, rather, like chocolate-flavored candies like tootsie rolls.

A small pile of light green and yellow cardamom seed pods.

None of the spices are particularly sharp or overly confrontational. The most prominent, on me, is a delectable touch of greenish cardamom, along with dusty powdered cinnamon and what might be a suggestion of ginger if you squint.

I needn’t have worried about the clove or black pepper notes being too strong. I can hardly tell anything sharp-spicy like that is even there, and if it is, it’s only present on me in the first few seconds of the opening. These lend a crispness, but no overwhelming pepperiness or clove-iness.

This certainly isn’t a clove bomb like Diptyque’s Eau Lente. That’s an example of a much harsher, stronger, more resinous warm spicy scent. Here, the spices are gentle and very mild, supporting sugary milky notes rather than dancing a sharp and pointy sort of modern dance in your nostrils. Where those spices feel more unapologetic and authentic, these are softened and muted suggestions of sugar and spice and everything nice.

A wooden box filled with leaves and citrus fruit including oranges, lemons, grapefruit, blood oranges, and clementines.

The suggestion of nondescript citruses appears briefly in the opening for me as well, adding a touch more sparkling crispness to the mix. It’s an ephemeral whisper of a note, though, even fainter and shorter-lived than most citruses, a hint of freshness at best.

This opening is lovely; I really wish it weren’t carried by that signature 90s floral musky baby powder accord, but I suppose that’s to be expected of a Curve perfume.

After a few more minutes, the milk and spices start really dominating the scent. The spices are still soft and muted, colorful suggestions in a world of hazy clouds, but they’re just a tinge louder in that milky white abyss than they had seemed before.

A glass pitcher, tall bottle, and wide-rimmed glass, all filled to the brim with milk.

Don’t be weirded out by the milky notes here. As others have said, the heart of this is more horchata than chai, with the milk making up the body of the opening and the spices accentuating it. It’s soft, creamy, and rather comforting.

It isn’t at all a photorealistic sort of dairy note. I wouldn’t smell this without context and think I’m smelling actual dairy milk or anything like it. Rather, there’s a soft, creamy, fluffy sort of white musk texture here that’s reminiscent of swirling warm milk with spices. It makes me think of all the food and drinks in Studio Ghibli movies, and how good it all looks even though it’s obviously animated.

Within two hours, the milk fades out some, as gradually as it came in, leaving a warm, spicy, deliciously sweet jumble of notes to fend for their own without that gentle cream tying it all together. There’s still a general milky, musky, white signature remaining, but it’s increasingly dominated by a cherry-tinged almond vanilla that’s getting louder by the minute.

A single bright red fresh cherry with a green stem.

Like with Curve Chill for Women, one of my favorite parts of this is the drydown. On me, it turns into a spiced vanilla with the whispered suggestion of cherry tobacco. I’m sure it’s just the cherry-forward, almond-like nuance of the vanilla and my imagination; there’s nothing really strongly like tobacco here, but the nature of that cherry note reminds me of it. Something about this just makes me think of the fine Havana tobacco in Mugler’s A*Men Pure Havane. It’s an odd scent to compare this to, maybe, but they share a comforting, soft, cloudy, hazy sort of sweetness, and what feels like a hidden cherry note.

After about four hours, this turns into a faint and rather linear vanilla skin scent on me, with a hint of sugary spice to keep things interesting. Within eight hours, it’s all but gone, with hardly a whisper of a trace of those soft white milky clouds left behind.

Let’s talk about the quality of these notes. Just how vivid, real, or edible are they?

Well, this certainly isn’t a photo-realistic niche scent. Though those warm food-y gourmand notes make up the bulk of the fragrance, it’s always very clear that you’re smelling perfume and not an actual warm spiced drink. Something about the way the fragrance goes stale over time continues to tip you off; there’s a floral-adjacent edge to it that’s almost plasticky.

The vanilla here leans a little playdough-y with a very on-the-nose cherry-almond edge, which is a large part that flags the scent as an over-simplified perfume rather than an actual tasty treat. The rest is likely something about the faint powdery pink floral edge that hangs around the periphery of Curve Crush throughout its lifetime, never taking center stage but always lurking, softening the effect of the scent.

Botanical illustration of a vanilla flower, leaves, and bean.

Still, realistic gourmands are challenging, and that edge doesn’t entirely ruin the pleasantness of the scent as it is.

Though this would make a great, accessible first scent for a teenage girl, it doesn’t come off as exclusively juvenile. This feels like the sort of scent you can wear for comfort regardless of age. The composition most definitely leans traditionally feminine, with its fluffy milky sweetness and florals, but it doesn’t necessarily scream middle schooler.

This isn’t about innocence. It’s about pure comfort.

Honestly, I’m rather impressed with both this and Curve Chill for Women. This is a little sweet on me, but I like it. The milk-sugar-spice heart of this isn’t something I was sure I would like, but it’s very comforting and rather delicious, and I was pleasantly surprised by those interesting nuances in the drydown.

If only it didn’t have that headache-inducing floral musk thing going on in the opening — in other words, if this were just the Crush without any of the Curve…

A vintage floral and gilded white teacup full of brown tea with a matching saucer and gold spoon.

Even so, I couldn’t wear this all the time. The atmosphere of dry milk starts to really get old around the three-to-four-hour mark for me, like whatever the equivalent of cloying is for lactonic scents. This is one you should sample for a few days (not just a few hours) before you buy, to confirm you still like it enough to wear it.

Personally, my curiosity was mostly sated in a few wears, but I’m rather fickle and love sampling more than anything else. I don’t wear this one often, but it was a fun one to get to know, and it’s nice to revisit now and then.

This is fairly unique in its class of fragrances, and signature-worthy for someone who can own that comforting spicy warmth and that unabashed milk scent. In many ways, Curve Crush feels to me like one parent of Jessica Simpson’s Fancy (the other parent, of course, being the pink-plastic classic, Burberry Brit). There is no doubt that this unassuming little designer scent had quite an impact on the landscape of fragrance in the mid-2000s.

Both Curve Crush and Curve Chill are fascinating and unexpectedly original offerings. They also don’t feel at all related. Besides that obligatory musky floral hint, they have next to nothing in common. It seems that Curve is more of a general collection of scents than a line of inter-connected flankers with a recognizeable theme in common. Sure, they both feel like mid-2000s designer scents, but the similarities end there.

A very large branched light brown ginger root with several light yellow flowers.

Where Curve Chill for Women is all innocent ginger-honey candy and flirty sweet pea, Curve Crush is a soft, comforting lactonic scent, sweet vanilla and cinnamon swirling in a tall glass of warm milk. Where Chill is a deep magenta with a sexy, musky finish, Crush is blushing cerise, comforting you with a warm sugary drink when you come home in the dead of winter.

Whereas the musk in Chill blooms at the end of the fragrance in a multi-dimensional, hazy, sexy sort of gauze, it pulls no such expansive and dominant tricks in Crush. Instead, the musk here is a softness blended into the sweet lactonic accord and nothing more. Still, it’s present throughout the lifetime of the fragrance, infusing it with that continued milky softness, hazy and gauzy in its layers of comforting sweetness. Though they perform quite differently in different contexts, though, this feels like the same sort of musk: muted and hazy clean white musk, nice and blurry around the edges, nothing animalic or too loud.

Where Curve Chill feels like the more daring, striking, original oddball of a composition, Curve Crush feels more cohesive. Though the overall effect is simple and can get dull after a while, Crush is a dependable and inexpensive way to get your cozy fix.

A bundle of cinnamon sticks held together by twine and topped with an anise star.

This would make a great comforting scent to break out in the winter. Unlike some cozy warm spice perfumes, this one also isn’t too heavy to wear in summer. In fact, I like the way the summer heat makes it carry, waft, and develop. It’s never overwhelmingly loud by any means, but the heat brings out the best in Curve Crush.

It would also probably make a solid layering perfume. Unlike strong, distinctive, in-your-face scents like Veronique Gabbai’s Eau du Jour that somehow insist they’re layering scents, this one actually looks like it would behave and play nice with another fragrance. It’s soft and muted enough to lend a light, fluffy lactonic spiced sweetness to the background of your favorite sweet, gourmand, or spicy scent, or it could make a fascinating backdrop for a fruity number or something else entirely. It’s quiet enough, and its texture soft, hazy, and musky enough, to blend well with another scent.

I think I wore a touch of this when I took (and failed) my first driving test on the road. It felt, of course, devastating, but Curve Crush was a nice pocket of comfort after I’d gotten home and bawled my little teenage eyes out, and it had helped me feel comfortable and confident earlier that day.

A pile of dried brown cloves.

I’m currently recovering from a rough bout of COVID-19. It thankfully seems not to have taken away my sense of smell, but I do feel just a little dulled in the way that being out of practice and still congested makes you. This was an easy first perfume to bring out again.

It’s not an incredibly intricate niche work of art, but there’s enough going on here to gently train my nose back to standing at attention. And it’s a nice source of warm, accessible pleasure on this dreary gray day as I cough my brains out and thank my lucky stars my nose still works.

By no means is Curve Crush the best warm cozy scent I’ve ever smelled. It’s simplistic and at times rather dull. But it’s accessible and it gets the job done. If you’re looking for a cozy everyday-wear scent to add to your collection that is relatively inexpensive and you don’t mind the simplicity and mild floral powderiness, Curve Crush is for you.


Where to Find Curve Crush for Women Eau de Toilette by Liz Claiborne

You can find full bottles of Curve Crush for Women EdT at HottPerfume and The Perfume Spot.

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