One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

On The Road, Part 3

And now, Things I Liked But Not Enough To Buy.

The biggest surprise was Bijou, the newest scent from Alfred Sung (I think it's a limited edition, in the same bottle as Jewel but in a plum-coloured box). It's not something I could imagine wearing, but the notes sounded so intriguing that I couldn't resist sampling it, and it's delicious, like a big bowl of exotic fruit cocktail--the top note has raspberry and plum and they occupy almost all of the airspace for the first fifteen minutes or so before being joined by coconut, vanilla, and, almost as an afterthought, some gardenias. It's not anything particularly special: it resembles those tropical-fruit girl-drink scents that Escada cranks out year after year. It's really nice, though.

At long last, I got a chance to sample some of the Serge Lutens scents. I limited myself to four, because I didn't want to overwhelm my nose and I had a lot of shopping to do, so I chose the ones that I thought would be the most to my taste. Maybe it's just me, maybe I'm just a philistine, maybe it was the nascent head cold, but none of them particularly wowed me. The nicest, without a doubt, was Ambre Sultan, but the trouble with amber scents is that they have to compete against the king and champion of all ambers, Ambre Précieux, and hardly any of them can. Ambre Sultan certainly couldn't, and at $110 Canadian for a 50-mL bottle, it would have to more than wow me; it would have to sneak up from behind, roundhouse me, drag me away, and leave me bound and gagged by the side of the road.

I also tried Santal Blanc, the enticing Arabie, and the accurately named Douce Amere ("bittersweet"); all nice, all something I'd consider buying at half the price, but otherwise, no.

Estée Lauder's Youth Dew Amber Nude is an improvement on the original, but when all is said and done, it's still basically Youth Dew without the gross top note and with chocolate. Nice enough for what it is (as they say), but no.

I had been expecting, or at least hoping, to be poleaxed by Terre D'Hermès, since they do knockout men's scents (Eau D'Hermès, Rocabar, Équipage, and especially Bel Ami are all genius) and it's been getting such good reviews. The bottle's awesome, and I liked it enough, but I didn't love it; nothing about it said "Buy me or else, damn you!" (The last time that happened, come to think of it, was in 2002 in Montréal: I smelled Yves Saint Laurent's M7, everything went more or less black, and when I came to, I had a bottle of it in a shopping bag.)

FlowerbyKenzo Oriental is not an improvement on the original. Adding an incense note to a flawless powdery-floral scent probably seemed like a good idea to someone, but it's really just a case of painting the lily. It's not terrible, and I'm sure it's appealing to people for whom the original was just too floral, but it isn't everything I would have hoped for.

Dior Homme is another of those scents I wanted to like, but....I can't even put my finger on it. It didn't seem to have any character, any presence (despite that majestic bottle). The contentious iris note wasn't even potent enough to raise an eyebrow. If I wanted to wear iris, I'd wear Hermès Hiris. I'm not ruling it out; it seems, in principle, like an interesting scent, and there have been fragrances over the years that I didn't "get" at first but eventually did, like Bel Ami. But there have also been plenty of others that should have been perfect for me but just weren't (L'Artisan's Mechant Loup!), and I have a feeling that Dior Homme is one of them.

Tomorrow: the things I'd buy, the things I will buy, and the things I should have bought.


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