One Thousand Scents

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hot Stuff: Gendarme Rage

And finally we come to Rage, the most interesting of the three Gendarme Seven Sinful Scents that I've tried. (Excess is probably the most conventionally attractive, if you like gourmand orientals, but this one is simultaneously off-kilter and wearable, a nice combination.)

A bright, pungent flash of citrus and pimento is the first thing out of the bottle, with a noticeably bitter accent from Seville orange. Something that brilliant can't help but flare up and burn out quickly, and it's gone in a matter of minutes. Ordinarily I find that warm middle notes present themselves almost immediately, side by side with the top notes, but Rage is different--the fresh, zingy top note provides no hint as to what lies underneath. (Perhaps the bitterness masks everything else, or perhaps this scent has been constructed with considerable care.)

Once those top notes are gone, the middle notes, mostly patchouli and vetivert, present themselves. Patchouli scents are very hit-or-miss with me; if the patchouli has been laid on with too heavy a hand, or if there aren't enough other notes to ameliorate it, I find it disgusting. In this scent, it works remarkably well. There's nothing smooth about the middle; it's warm, but the two main notes give it a jangly, unsettled feel that I like.

The eventual drydown--this is a long-lasting, though at the end subtle, scent--sands down all those rough edges with warm benzoin, myrrh, and a hint of ambergris.

If the truth be told, I would like for Rage to have been even hotter and angrier: a dose of sharp red pepper in the top, perhaps, and a few hard-edged spices like cinnamon and galingale. But I like it; it's consistently interesting from start to finish.


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