One Thousand Scents

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Water Feature: Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise for Men

Here's an article from the New York Times about the trend in blueness in men's perfumery. You might want to go read it and then come back. It's relevant and interesting. I can wait.

It's nothing new, of course (and in fairness, the article doesn't claim it is, merely that there are already some twenty-odd men's releases this year on the theme of blue). Blue has been considered a masculine colour for at least a century in North America*, so to establish their masculine cred, a great many men's scents are packaged in blue--the box, the bottle, the juice. Because blue evokes water and air, and therefore freedom--flight, sailing away--and because aroma-chemists have created so many wet-fresh-cool-airy molecules in the last couple of decades, there are not many houses that haven't used this trope.

Estee Lauder's 2004 Beyond Paradise for Men is definitely a blue scent, and it has a blue bottle, sort of; it's layered in tropical-sunset shades of red, blue, and green. The bottle is a real attention grabber; because the colours aren't solid but formed of minute inkjet droplets, as you turn the bottle in your hand and look through it--an irresistible impulse--you get the fascinating sense that it is actually composed of mist, like the spray coming from a spotlit fountain at night.

The top of the scent feels convincingly misty, too. Very strong and very fruity, it has a thoroughly wet (and thoroughly synthetic) feel to it which is fascinating but short-lived. After that, what you have is yet another run-of-the-mill men's scent, clean-scrubbed, herbal, aquatic and ozonic and done to death. The base is nice enough, a scrap of warm wood and patchouli, but unexceptional; nothing stands out, nothing announces itself as interesting.

Lauder, of course, has laboured mightily to make Beyond Paradise for Men seem amazing, from inventing a ludicrous new category for it--"prismatic wood"--to including all sorts of novel notes and accords: jabuticaba (a Brazilian fruit), "Mediterranean accord", "Eden's Mist" (that convincing wet-mist feel at the top), Eden Buchu (buchu being an African herb of the agathosma family), and Eden Vetiver, all doubtless synthetic. It doesn't smell exactly like every other men's scent on the market, it's true; but after that bright wet spray at the beginning, there isn't anything much to distinguish it from all the rest.

So that leaves the gorgeous bottle. You shouldn't be leaving clear glass bottles out in the open, but if you must have a nice-looking bottle (containing an inoffensive scent) sitting on your dresser, you could do worse.

*It wasn't always; once upon a time, blue was for girls and pink was for boys.

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