One Thousand Scents

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Florabunda: Guerlain Bouquet No. 1 and Flora Nymphea

The idea of human cloning seems to terrify people, or at least science-fiction readers and audiences, but even a moment's thought would demonstrate that a clone of you wouldn't be you, not even a little bit (and, more to the point, I suppose, a clone of Hitler wouldn't be anything like Hitler). You grew up in a specific place and time, surrounded by a specific family and friends, with a specific set of social conditions; I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, there were no such things as home computers or cell phones or AIDS, though there was a Berlin Wall, and anybody growing up starting today is going to be living in a drastically different world than I did, and so is going to be a drastically different person. Any little clone of me is probably going to inherit my gene for baldness and, if I have anything to say about it, my taste in music, but that's about it.

Besides, there are already plenty of clones walking among us. You might even be a clone, if you're an identical twin. A fertilized egg divides in two, and then each of those halves continues dividing independently into a human being; clones. Nothing scary about twins, is there?

Well, maybe.

Anyway. The two newest Aqua Allegorias are not clones of each other, but they're clones--or immediate family members--of other scents, unfortunately, and it's sad to see Guerlain reduced to something like this.

I stupidly assumed the travel exclusive Bouquet Numero 1 would be different or interesting; after all, it's an exclusive, so I figured it would have to do something to carve through the massive barrage of scents that hits you in a typical airport duty-free shop. But no, it's just a white floral, typically thick and creamy with tuberose and ylang-ylang. There is a suggestion at the top of the minty grass of Herba Fresca, and a bit of sweet fruit, but it is in the end just another white floral, not drastically dissimilar to a great many other big dense white florals you could name: Serge Lutens Datura Noir comes to mind, as do such tuberose monsters as Versace Blonde and Carolina Herrera and Fracas.

The other new Aqua Allegoria is a floral, too, but a completely different creature; it's very bright and sharp at the beginning, a laser-guided orange blossom of a scent, and then it turns into soap, floral soap--Camay, I think, or Cashmere Bouquet--so basically it's a cousin to Sicily by Dolce and Gabbana, only less complex and therefore not really as interesting.

If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to wear one of them repeatedly, it would be Flora Nymphea, not because I love it or even really because it's the better scent--neither of them is particularly memorable--but because I really, really do not like white florals.

Do you suppose it's genetic? That some of us have smell receptors that simply respond better to some things than others, and that I love warm dense orientals because I have a particular combination of receptors and someone else loves high-pitched florals because of their particular combination? Or do you suppose it's my upbringing, that maybe I was nearly asphyxiated by a White Shoulders-wearing aunt at the age of five and have ever since had a distaste for tuberose-gardenia perfumes? In other words, nature or nurture?

And would a clone of me like white florals?

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