One Thousand Scents

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

...Or Friday Night: Escada Casual Friday


Jim, my other half--eighteen years and counting--hates commercial fragrances. (Many of them contain synthetics that give him headaches; he thinks the glorious Ambre Precieux "smells like something burning".) I suppose for him it's like living with a smoker. A couple of times I've spilled a few drops of scent (here's one story) and it hasn't been pleasant for him. I generally only wear anything when he's not around: luckily, I have a very irregular work schedule--not erratic, just unpredictable--so I do get to indulge myself.

There have only ever been two commercial scents that Jim's liked enough to put on his skin. One of them was the sadly discontinued Casual Friday: luckily, I have not one but two bottles of the stuff, so I'll have it for a while. (You can also find it on eBay.) Shortly after its launch in 1999, we were walking though a department store when Jim said, "What's that smell?" I knew from the way he said it that he wasn't revolted by it, in fact interested by it, and naturally I was amazed. I sniffed the air and, since I had already sampled it (of course) and immediately recognized it, told him what it was called. I couldn't quite believe my eyes: we walked over to the counter, and he actually sprayed some on a blotter and sniffed it. Then he sniffed it again. And then we bought some.

Naturally enough, it smelled very good on him; the gourmand spiciness suited him perfectly. He didn't think it smelled good on me, though, so I never wore it, at least not when he was around. After wearing it occasionally for a few months, he tired of it, and that was the end of that. But I still have it and love it.

The mildly redundant list of notes on Basenotes promises cedar, cedarwood, patchouli, cinnamon, aniseed, licorice, cotton flower, cardamom, cloves, amber, vanilla. (These don't seem to be in any particular order.) Casual Friday erupts in a blaze of spices, most prominently the cinnamon and cloves, plus a curry-like note which must be from (at least partly) the cardamom. The sharp edges of the spices are quickly smoothed over by the ascension of a licorice note--not sweet candy-store licorice, but the scent of licorice root, dry and masculine--which dominates the middle, and an equally masculine floral note. (It may be cotton flower, but it also suggests the carnation, probably because of the clove note which remains from the top.) If there's ambergris in there, it's subtle; the drydown is little but vanilla, to my nose. That curry note in the top is a little strange, but on the whole Casual Friday is very friendly, very accessible; not, perhaps, a classical men's fragrance, but still appealing. The oddest thing about it, really, is the name: it doesn't seem like an office sort of scent at all, but more like a sexy, almost edible evening scent, something that says, "Nibble me".

Next up: the only other scent Jim's ever worn.

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