One Thousand Scents

Friday, March 28, 2008

Grove: Fendi Life Essence

Fendi Life Essence is one of those scents that nobody ever seems to have heard of. It's ten years old, and it's still in production, so clearly people are buying it: but has it ever made a top-ten list? Part of the problem has to be the marketing: if you go poking around online, you'll find that lots of places list it as a men's scent, and lots of others list it as a women's scent. What it really is is unisex, one of those things like Eau Sauvage that women wear with pleasure and impunity, though if someone insisted it was for men, you couldn't really disagree; it has a quiet, subtle masculinity to it.

Life Essence opens with a bright lemonade feeling. It isn't lemony, exactly, not like lemon oil (and not like Eau Sauvage, either). But it is exhilarating: cold, fresh, snappy. It always makes me think of a pitcher of homemade lemonade, every time I put it on. You can almost see the beads of condensation trickling down the sides of the bottle. (This is why modern aroma-chemistry has made fragrances so much more interesting in the last century: you couldn't create an effect like this with naturally existing extracts. The brightness, the clarity of the top notes are a testament to the work of chemists as much as perfumers.)

The lemonade is quickly supplemented by a smudge of blunted spices (coriander and cardamom), some random greenery, and the first intimations of the woody heart of the scent. The wood is dry and a bit brittle, mostly cedar (though not that pencil-shavings/hamster-cage cedar of Shiseido's Feminité du Bois) and cypress.

There isn't a lot of progress in the scent, no great complexity, and definitely not a top-middle-base set of stages. One thing merely turns into another: the citrus-green notes are gradually replaced by the woody notes, which are eventually warmed, a little, by sandalwood, labdanum and supposedly oakmoss, though not much of it, certainly not enough to push this scent into the chypre category.

Inside a wood-grain box, the bottle is a model of simplicity: an elongated glass block with an inset for the label, the whole thing capped, naturally, with knurled wood. The packaging is telling you two things about the fragrance inside: it's dominated by wood, and it's rigorously simple, almost minimalist. That minimalism is what makes the scent so pleasant. After the vivid chill of the top notes, what's left is almost subliminal. It's background; it's wallpaper. It's there, but it lets you wear it instead of it wearing you.

2 Comments:

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Foo-min, at 9:31 PM  

  • I'm not a perfume person, there aren't many perfumes I feel confortable wearing.
    However, this perfume is different.
    It makes me feel alive, refreshed and rejuvenated. And the scent is so...me.

    Having said that I don't think that scent is many people's cup of tea.
    It's too unique. But a real grower.
    I'm going to forever miss this perfume since now it's discontinued.

    By Blogger Foo-min, at 9:33 PM  

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