One Thousand Scents

Monday, August 24, 2009

Go Ape: Kenzo Jungle Homme

None of the lists of fragrance notes mentions it. None of the reviews I sought out mentions it. But to my nose, the top of Kenzo Jungle Homme smells of lime, spices (possibly nutmeg), and banana. It’s not strong, not like CSP Vanille Banane, but it is clear and well-defined: the smell of banana aldehydes. I think if you wanted to make a really jungly scent, a banana note would be a good way to go. Kenzo’s first scent was called King Kong and it infamously had a banana note in it, the better to fit in with his Parisian boutique named Jungle Jap (yes, this really was what it was called--it was the seventies); I think Kenzo Jungle Homme has recycled that element.

The lime diffuses away quickly but the spiciness and the fruit-aldehyde quality persist well into the middle, which is that of a warm, sweet oriental. If someone had described a Serge Lutens scent to you but omitted mentioning the usual Lutens weirdness and you’d tried to recreate it, Jungle Homme is what you’d end up with. There is nothing especially distinct about it, no obvious notes that leap out and announce themselves: it’s just oriental warmth and sweetness and a bit of stewed fruit with a woody undertone that in time is going to take over completely. The wood is cedar, and it’s highly polished, all the edges taken off and buffed to a shine; no pencil shavings here. (There must be vanilla in the polish, too: it’s actually benzoin, with its characteristic warm thick vanillic aroma.)

The bottle, of course, is enchanting, because Kenzo puts a lot of thought into the packaging. (His first men’s scent was in the curved shape of a bamboo stalk: his Tokyo was the same shape, but polished, streamlined, modernized.) Jungle Homme is a blocky glass prism, the back etched with a series of stripes that could be zebraskin, or could be claw marks from some vicious jungle predator; the top suggests bamboo again, crowned with a little zebra mohawk, and how perfect is that?

I don’t need any more oriental scents and I don’t need any more full bottles of anything, but Kenzo Jungle Homme is exceedingly nice. The only that’s stopped me buying it in the past, and the only thing that’s stopping me now, is that it’s no longer available in anything but 100-mL bottles. If there was a 50 or, better, a 30, I think I’d be online with a credit card in my hand right now.


  • Is there jasmine in the listed notes? I find that jasmine sometimes carries a banana phantom note. Clever either way!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:04 AM  

  • Every list of notes I can find runs more or less as follows:

    Top notes: Maté, Limette
    Heart Notes: Nutmeg, Ambrette, Musk Mallow seeds
    Base Notes: Atlas Cedar, Blue Cedar, Gaiac Wood, Benzoin

    (Maté is an herb usually steeped into a tea: it supposedly smells grassy and something like green tea.)

    Nobody mentions jasmine, and nobody mentions banana, either. But I swear I can smell it!

    By Blogger pyramus, at 11:23 AM  

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