One Thousand Scents

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Beyond the Sea: CSP Aqua Motu


A week and a half ago I got a sample of Comptoir Sud Pacifique's Aqua Motu. I hadn't ever tried it before and I wasn't particularly interested in the sample, because I knew what it was going to smell like: fresh, ozonic, aquatic, done-before, boring. This morning I was poking around in my cabinet looking for something I hadn't worn before and there it was, so I put on a couple of spritzes, and I am the first to admit when I've been wrong; it's gorgeous.

The first things that came to mind when I smelled it were Dior's Dune and Dune pour Homme, because they're all meant to evoke the same things: not water, but the beach itself. Neither of the Dior scents really works on me, though I love them both, or more accurately have a love/hate relationship with them both: Dune pour Homme is too sharp and cologney despite its felicities, and Dune has a sweetness that I find aggressive and out of place among the dry licheny sand.

Aqua Motu, though: that works on me, in spades. It's as if someone had taken the Dior scents and stripped them of everything extraneous, reduced them to the pure abstract idea of the seaside. It smells marine, but not that fraudulent ozonic-oceany smell that perfumers can't seem to get enough of nowadays; it smells instead of salt water and seaweed and the grasses and stunted little shrubs that grow above the waterline. There is a warmth to it--one of the notes listed is "warm sand"--and a bare suggestion of sweetness, but nothing cloying. It isn't a beach strewn with sun worshippers bathed in tanning oil: it's a brave, barren little Atlantic seacoast populated by mussels and seabirds. It suggests my childhood in Newfoundland, and now, dammit, I have to go and buy myself a bottle.

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