One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Not the Perfume but the Box

A comment by Luca Turin has stuck with me for quite a while:

Dzing! is a scent of superlative oddness. For the first twenty minutes, it simply smells of cardboard.

Really? For twenty whole minutes? And nothing but cardboard? Because it doesn't smell that way to me at all. I almost immediately get a leather-and-sawdust effect (it's meant to suggest a three-ring circus), along with a note which evidently is supposed to be cotton candy (that circus theme again) but which smells deliciously of caramel to me.

I know Luca Turin has a much better nose than I do, and I know that cardboard has a woody smell to it, but the smell of Dzing! is really sawdusty, not like cardboard at all.

On the other hand, there is a fragrance that does smell dramatically of cardboard: Piguet's Bandit. A few years back someone sent me a sample, and I put a little dab on to make sure it was acceptable (I was heading out for the day and didn't want to bother anyone or embarrass myself), and then enough to really get a sense of it. I immediately recognized that it was strange, but I didn't understand how strange until I had experienced it for a couple of hours.

I didn't get much of anything that the list of notes promised, to wit:

Scent Type: Chypre - Floral Animalic
Top Notes: Neroli, orange, ylang-ylang, galbanum
Heart Notes: Jasmine, rose, tuberose, leather
Base Notes: Patchouli, mousse de chene, vetiver, musk

Florals? Not to my nose. Honeyed oakmoss, earthy patchouli, spiky vetiver? No, no, and no, at least not as individual or recognizable notes. What I mostly smelled in Bandit was that leather, and quite a lot of it, combined with an unsettling amount of cardboard and a strange mustiness, almost a dankness, that reminded me strongly of a basement (the combination of all those base notes, I guess). As a construction it was fascinating, no doubt about it, but was it wearable? Not by me, but definitely by some men; though it's classified as a women's fragrance, it's dry and leathery enough to work. I kept sniffing it and thinking about it, and finally I got it:

No wonder some women are so devoted to this scent: it smells exactly, precisely like a warehouse full of new shoes!


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