One Thousand Scents

Monday, January 17, 2011

Staying Power: Alfred Sung Encore

After two blockbusters, the Alfred Sung marketing people could probably have been forgiven for assuming that the next scent was a sure-fire hit, but Encore didn't stick around very long, and I don't know why.

Okay, I have a couple of theories. It's not immediately beautiful (although I have to say that the big white-floral original wasn't, either): the top is sharpish and a little violent. In fact, it's sort of odd: when I bought mine not long after its launch, it came with some bath products (probably shower gel and body lotion) in a little drawstring bag, and the bag smelled like Coca-Cola syrup. If you've ever worked with this stuff, you know just what it smells like, and the drydown of Encore does in fact have a distinctly cola-syrup smell to it. Cola smells mostly of sweetened cinnamon, vanilla, and citrus oils, with some other spices thrown in, and although there are many orientals out there with those elements, somehow in this scent they combined, or were combined, to give a definite soda-fountain effect.

After the big, brittle citrus-aldehyde top, Encore turns into an extravagant floral oriental with lots of tuberose allied to that cola accord. It is very large, very richh, and very imposing, and I think that might have been the second part of its problem: it was a throwback to the eighties in a time when lighter, less aggressive scents were starting to take over. You could never accuse Encore of being modest.

And it lasts pretty much forever, too. Here's how durable it is: last week around let's say 6:30 a.m. I put some on the back of my hand (as ever) so I could think about it. An hour later, I did the dishes, showered, put on some A*Men Pure Coffee, which is pretty potent stuff, and headed out the door to go to work. A few hours later, I was sure I could smell Encore, and I could. I arrive home from work at around 6:30, grabbed some supper, and sat down at the computer, and twelve hours after I had originally put on the Encore, I could still smell it. It survived not one but two complete washings, plus however many hand-washings I might have performed at work, and a twelve-hour day.

Now that's an oriental.

I always thought the Encore bottle was kind of genius. Here's the best picture I could find for the original perfume:

And here's the Encore perfume bottle*:

It's the same bottle, but warped, melted, reconfigured and reconsidered. Brilliant. It reminds me of one of those D'Arcy Thompson** transformations:

At any rate, Encore wasn't a big success, and so the next few Sung scents were not absolutely unlike the best-selling floral original: 1992's Sung Spa, 1995's Forever, and 1997's Pure were all white or white-ish florals, and Sung never did make another full-blown oriental. Still, they must have sold Encore for a few years, and they must have produced a hell of a lot of it, because you can still find it if you hunt for it. (I bought a bottle of Encore maybe five years ago, and I'm certain it hadn't been reformulated; it might be the case that it wasn't around long enough for that to be an issue.) PerfumeLA has it, and although it's rarely a good idea to buy something unsniffed, sometimes you get a pleasant surprise. If you want a proper old-style floral oriental that doesn't smell like anything you already own, this could be just such a surprise.

*Actually, I think that's the EDP pour bottle: the perfume bottle had a translucent frosted cap. I think.

**And the name D'Arcy Thompson makes me think of this genius Kate Beaton cartoon:

Seriously, you should read her all the time, because she's brilliant and hilarious.


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