One Thousand Scents

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Elements of Surprise: Very Irresistible for Men by Givenchy

As I was walking home from work tonight, a couple passed maybe ten feet in front of me; I live downtown and a great many people were headed to the bars and restaurants on this warm summer's night. The man, I think it's safe to say, was wearing too much cologne: he must have applied it not fifteen minutes before, because the top notes were still evident, and it was entirely apparent at that distance. (If someone can smell you at more than an arm's length away, you're probably wearing too much of whatever it is, and if they can distinctly smell the top notes, you've probably left the house too soon after applying it.)

But the smell was so dazzling that I instantly forgave him. My first response was, "I know what that is!", but it took a few seconds longer to put a name to the delicious fresh-mocha smell; it was Very Irresistible for Men by Givenchy.

It starts with a zingy green note of mint and grapefruit, with, it seems to me, another fruit note that resembles pear. The top notes are surprisingly persistent; they maintain their fresh edge even as the warm edible middle notes come to the fore. If you've ever eaten those Sesame Snaps or, I don't know, a big handful of sesame seeds, you'll recognize the dry scent of sesame in the middle notes, which help to keep the other main mid-note accord from becoming too sweet. The mocha scent is irresistible indeed; it's not the sweet milky coffee of Comptoir Sud Pacifique's Vanille Café but something more grown-up, for lack of a better word, something drier and richer; the chocolate is laid on with a light hand to keep it from being merely a confection. Some people complain that the mocha note is too fleeting, but it must be a matter of chemistry; it lasts for hours on me.

The base notes, in comparison, don't seem particularly strong or tenacious on my skin; the hazelnut-wood note gradually moves to the fore--I don't detect any cedar at all--and then the whole thing just evaporates. But even without base notes, what there is of it is plenty. Everything about it is a surprise. The spectacular bottle led me to believe I'd be getting something fresh and green; the gourmand oriental that followed those green notes was a welcome turning of the tables, and that sense of the unexpected is what makes it one of Givenchy's greatest men's scents.


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