One Thousand Scents

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Gimme: Gendarme Greed

About a month ago I placed an online order with Sephora--the closest one to me is in Toronto, and I won't be going there any time soon--and I felt like ordering a few little things to tuck in around the edges of the main reason I was placing an order (more on that in a week or two). Gendarme has a line called Seven Sinful Scents, each named after one of the seven deadly sins, more or less. (They couldn't call one of them Envy, because that's already taken by Gucci, so they called it Envious instead. Gluttony would be a bad name for a scent, so they called that one Excess. Pride became Vanity, really a better name for a scent, Avarice was renamed Greed, and Wrath became the trendier Rage, which has a double meaning.)

So anyway, I thought some of these sounded like just my cup of tea, so I ordered three of them, Excess, Greed, and Rage. (Vanity sounded not particularly interesting, Envious has lilac so no dice, Lust just sounded too girly with water lily and lily of the valley, and Sloth sounded kind of boring, which is probably the whole point.)

I'm not in the habit of buying scents unsniffed, but for the price--$10 each!--I figured what the hell. Plus, I got free shipping, so it seemed like it was probably worth it.

Today: Greed. Admittedly, it's a very abstract concept compared to wrath or gluttony, so the perfumer played an amusing little game to connote greed: Sephora lists the notes as

Banana Extract, Black Pepper, Mexican Lime, Vodka Accord, Guaiac wood, Aldehydes, Cedarwood, Cashmere Wood

but there's much more to it than that, because Greed is primarily a green fragrance, and in the U.S., green invariably connotes money, since until recently all American money was the same muddy, unappetizing shade of green. Greed = green notes, get it?

The banana note, thank goodness, is not intrusive; it's really just a whiff of aldehydes in the midst of a storm of green. I was surprised to find that the vodka accord really does resemble vodka, which doesn't have much of an odor except for the smell of alcohol, but it confers a odd sharpness to the scent. In fact, "odd" and "sharp" are probably the two best words to describe Greed.

The pepper, lime, and vodka--like some perverse margarita--burn off in ten or fifteen minutes, and what follows is a very green scent; angular, piercing, and unplaceable. It doesn't smell like quite like leaves, or greenery; it's blatantly synthetic, what's called in the industry a fantasia fragrance. (It suggests a few things: rhubarb leaves, I think, and something that reminds me of mowing a lawn with a power mower when the lawn is mostly dandelions.) The drydown is a collocation of warm woods with traces of that synthetic greenness to keep it from being too pleasant and usual.

Greed is my least favourite of the Seven Sinful Scents that I've tried, but that doesn't mean I dislike it; it's just strange (and it's growing on me). I'll wear it from time to time: some days you feel like strange.

(In case this is the sort of thing that interests you: classically, each of the seven deadly sins has been associated with a colour, and I give kudos to the folks at Gendarme for following through on the theme by tinting each of the scents in its appropriate colour. Rage is red, Excess is orange, and Greed is yellow, and judging from the pictures on Sephora, the others are also correct. Nice touch!)


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