One Thousand Scents

Friday, June 24, 2011

Have Your Cake And Wear It Too: Jacomo Art Collection #02

As I mentioned, when I was at Bergdorf Goodman a few weeks ago, the nice saleswoman, when she discovered that I liked leather scents (or at least was interested in buying a specific leathery scent, which is not exactly the same thing, but she was on a mission), started plying me with all the leathers she could think of. The first was Jacomo Art Collection #02, which is meant to smell like leather and modelling clay and bubble gum, so I guess that means it has heliotrope in it, which a lot of people think smells like Play-Doh, and birch tar, which stands in for leather in fragrances, and possibly ethylmaltol or one of the other candy-note aromachemicals. But here is what it smells like:

A leather birthday cake. Tons of leather at first, lots of birch tar. Then cake. There are sprinkles on top, plenty of vanilla in the frosting. And birthday candles, smoky-waxy. Over a few hours, the sweetness of the cake gradually drowns out the leather, but it's never overpoweringly sweet, and the leather never quite goes away. Late in the game, there is a sprinkling of vanilla-laced baby powder over the whole thing, for some reason.

And really that's it. Not terrible, but too simple for what it's supposed to be, which is art.

Since this is a collection, there are several scents, all apparently gourmand — I didn't try either of the others — and packaged in arty boxes that I find sort of hideous, so I'm not going to show them to you (you can look them up yourself if you must; that's what the Internet is for), but the bottles are attractive:

If they add to the collection and do some blues and greens, and then sell the whole bunch of them as a set of half-ounce miniatures, it would make a nice little arrangement on your dresser, cluttery and charming.

Speaking of miniatures: maybe the bean-counters at the fragrance houses know something I don't, but why don't all scents come as minis? I personally love them. I would never have bought a full bottle of Ambre Narguile at $200 or whatever it's vending for these days, as much as I love it, but I did buy a set of four 15-mL bottles of the first four Hermessences for $135 or so; the company didn't lose money on the deal, because they got me to buy something I wouldn't have, even if they earned less money from the transaction. At Bergdorf Goodman, I would have laid out $85 or $90 for a 50-mL bottle of Je Suis Un Homme which I'll never see the bottom of, but instead I paid $150 for a batch of 16 10-mL bottles, so everybody wins. I could be wrong about the economics of it, but I am reasonably certain that if everything as a matter of course were launched in 15-mL sprays, or collections of miniatures once a year, a lot more scents would be sold. People who can't justify buying a full bottle will spring for a smaller one. People who just want to try a scent will buy the smallest size and maybe finish it and then spring for the big bottle. Completists will buy sets of minis just to have them. Addicts who have to have everything a particular house releases will clamour for them: I'm thinking specifically of Guerlain and Chanel here. And just think if Serge Lutens or Parfumerie Generale did sets of miniatures! Honestly, it's win-win all the way down.

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