One Thousand Scents

Friday, March 31, 2006

Runaway Success: Yohji Homme

In the summer of 1999 I was in Toronto for a day before heading back home, and I had a chance to do a little shopping and see a movie before I had to catch my plane. One of the new fragrances I'd heard about was Yohji Homme, and I had a chance to sample it at Holt Renfrew before the movie started. Uncharacteristically for me, I sprayed some on my skin in the store and kept sniffing it for the next little while as I headed off for the movie. I arrived at the theatre about half an hour before the movie started--nothing unusual for me, because I hate to miss even a second of a movie and I can easily amuse myself with a book. As I was sitting in my seat, I kept sniffing my wrist and realized that I couldn't possibly live without Yohji Homme. Since I knew I wouldn't have time to get back to Holt Renfrew after the movie, I left the cinema and ran all the way to the store, where I bought the fragrance and then ran all the way back in time for the movie, which was Run Lola Run.

This is a true story.

Run Lola Run is an awesome movie and Yohji Homme is an awesome scent. Even the bottle is quietly spectacular--a tall, narrow glass column with no cap, just a little hinged gizmo which snaps under the sprayer to keep it from detonating in your luggage, all wrapped in a black cloth drawstring tube. (The bottle has a bump of glass near the top; its purpose mystified me until I realized by accident that it was an elegant solution to an obvious problem: it's meant to keep the bottle from rolling if you lay it on its side.)

The notes are, apparently, Coriander, Lavender, Bergamot, Anise, Rosewood, Cinnamon, Carnation, Geranium, Cedar, Tonka, Leather, Rum. I can't make out most of the individual notes, which, I think, is as it should be; sometimes it's fun to be able to pick out this or that, but I love a scent that's carefully blended, everything in perfect balance. What I do know is that the whole thing is saturated, top to bottom, with licorice, and it's delicious. The composition is warm and sensuous, gourmand without being heavy or over-sweet--a remarkable feat, because licorice has inspired some near-misses such as Lempicka Au Masculin, which I once loved but tired of when it began to cloy. Yohji Homme never has. It's not the longest-lasting scent I own--it vanishes altogether in less than eight hours--but while it does last, it's one of the most beautiful.



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