One Thousand Scents

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fame Whores: Intimately Beckham for Him and for Her

So let's try this for a while: I'm posting every Friday. Time may come when I post more often than that, but for now, we'll make it a regular weekly thing. I think I can manage that, and it'll be better than three posts in one week and then nothing for a month, or whatever.


It's so easy to bash celebrity fragrances, that ceaseless, unstemmable flood of tedious, overdone, redone cheapness masquerading as class. It's so easy, in fact, that I'm going to have a go at it.

Intimately Beckham for Him, according to the official list of notes, smells of bergamot, grapefruit zest, cardamom, violet, nutmeg, star anise, sandalwood, patchouli and amber. Intimately Beckham for Her is made of bergamot, rose petals, Casablanca lily, tuberose, orange blossom, vanilla, sandalwood and musk.

And honestly, they're hardly even there. They smell like something; they're not non-existent. But they don't make any kind of effect; they're what you wear when you don't actually want to wear a fragrance. They're place-holders, like people hired to fill seats at the Academy Awards. You couldn't possibly know what to write about them; it's like discussing your immediate experience of nitrogen or radio waves. In one of her comic strips, here's what the brilliant Lynda Barry has to say about a schoolteacher's nondescript hair:

"What color it is, I can't hardly even say." I love that.

If hair can be not any particular colour at all but just hair-coloured, then both versions of Intimately Beckham are fragrance-scented. They're the most generic, obvious, of-the-moment eaux you can possibly imagine. There's not one single thing to set either of them apart from anything else in the pack, except that the men's version isn't the usual fresh scent (which was already done, boringly, by Beckham's first scent, Instinct) but a soft oriental. Otherwise, they're as neutral as can be. Hers is a sweet puddle of flowers, and his is a sweet puddle of patchouli and ambergris. You could put them in any old bottle and call them any old thing, with any old celebrity attached to them, and there'd be no way to tell them apart from anything else currently on the market. They have no self. Are these fragrances some sort of joke about the cult of celebrity, about that old definition of a television personality as "something less than a person, blown up to look like something more"?

Even the bottles are horrible: these squat, low-slung blocks of glass that seem deliberately designed to be hard to handle. (Another joke?) It's nearly impossible to pick one up and spray it with one hand. Wouldn't you think that these two lean people would have equally slender, striking bottles for their namesake scents?

For what it's worth, I sampled the new limited-edition versions of these scents today, both subtitled Night, and there's nothing more to be said about them, either, except that the women's bottle is at least a beautiful shade of purple.


  • glad to hear that you will be reviewing on a weekly basis....I look forward to your reviews. I also like that you are willing to actually review "common" fragrances from time to time. There are many perfume blogs out there, but not many spend time on the fragrances that are most available. Granted, I really enjoy my "niche" fragrances (I'm sure "niche" is some secret perfume marketers code word for $100.00 or higher), but I also really like my bargain bin finds, drug store perfumes and department store, mass-marketed scents.

    I think I'll stay clear of the Beckham, though.....


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:24 PM  

  • I made a conscious decision when I started this blog to write about any scent I liked, not just the new things. I live in a small city where the newest scents take their own sweet time to make it here, assuming they ever do, which they usually don't. (I bought Midnight Poison in London in September, very soon after its launch: as of Christmas, it still wasn't available here. Most of the big mass-market fragrances, though, are launched here as everywhere else.) It would be difficult and expensive for me to sample everything new, as much as I'd like to, and I'm just as happy writing about something launched ten years ago as I am discussing the latest Hermes.

    As for the Beckham scents, I tend to sniff every scent that comes along, however awful it's likely to be, but even I can't recommend wasting a minute with these. They're not terrible; they're just not really there.

    By Blogger pyramus, at 6:38 AM  

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