One Thousand Scents

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mix and Match 3: Body Shop Invent Your Scent

I'm surprised that one important category of perfumery, the chypre fragrance, isn't represented (not even by Chymara, whose name would seem to be taking a stab at it). It's not as if The Body Shop wouldn't know what to do with it: they used to have a gorgeously sweet perfume oil called Chypre (which a Body Shop manager I used to know insisted on pronouncing "chiffre", as if she were afraid that the name would otherwise sound like "sheep"). Otherwise, they've more or less run the gamut. I wish they had taken a few more chances, though: a genuinely unisex collection (maybe one true floral in the bunch) with one wholly herbal-aromatic scent (so good for mixing) would have been daring and enjoyable.

Top: green basil leaves, fresh lemon, orange, aromatic, mint. Heart: ozone, peony, white lilies. Bottom: spices, musk

With a name like that, I was hoping for this to be a lot greener and a lot mintier--perhaps something akin to Guerlain's Herba Fresca. The basil leaves are startlingly potent--it's almost pesto without the garlic--and the entire top note is vital and unexpected. But then there are more of those damned lilies! The entire thing turns into yet another fresh floral, as if the world needed more of those, and any interest that the top note generated just dies away.

Top: violet leaves, bergamot, red pepper berries, palmarosa, rose leaves. Heart: rose petals, peony, muguet, fresh jasmine, cyclamen. Bottom: sequoia, sandalwood, white musk

The bottle's pink, the name's girly, so you know this has to be a floral, and it is--an exceptionally pretty one, rosy and light-hearted with a decided baby-powder undertone. It's lovely and happy--it calls to mind dozens of women's scents, particularly Gaultier's Le Classique and Oscar de la Renta, without seeming like a copy of any of them.

Top: ginger, bergamot, lime, tangerine. Heart: ginger, cardomon, pepper, freesia. Bottom: cedarwood, sandalwood

If you know anything about etymology, you're going to expect that this smells of ginger, because the Latin name for that spicy root is zingiber officinale. You'd be right, too: that's just what it smells like. (The name is clearly a cross between "Zanzibar" and "zingiber".) The ginger note is much truer and spicier than that in the offbeat Bulgari Blu Homme, and the whole composition has a rough-and-tumble spark to it; all edges, none of them smoothed over by vanilla or ambergris, just those spicy notes zipping in and out of a slightly musty cedar.


  • Wonderful blog, you make the scents come alive just by writing about them... I googled by because the little girl in me couldn't resist the Body Shop Invent your Scent-kit, although I normally prefer more sophisticated scents ;)

    And I totally agree with you about Yves Rocher's Cocoon - lovely, but unfortuneately too shortlived on my skin ;)

    By Blogger Svarthyllpiken, at 2:32 PM  

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