One Thousand Scents

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Both Ends Against The Middle: Gilded Lily by Ineke

Last week on the A.V. Club I read a piece called Didn't like it, would still recommend it, and even after reading the article and the ensuing comments I am utterly baffled by the very idea; how can you recommend something you don't like? Isn't your own taste the benchmark of your recommendations to friends? I can understand "I didn't care for it, but I know you like this sort of thing so I thought you'd enjoy it," or (and all of us scent hounds have done this) "Here: I can't wear this but maybe you can, and if not maybe you know someone else who can," but to just flat-out say "I hated this but I think you should experience it anyway" — how is that possible? Is there an undertone of "I want you to be as unhappy as I was"?

I will give Ineke big points for making what she calls a fruity chypre and meaning it, putting an interesting array of fruit into the top (pineapple, grapefruit, and rhubarb, she says) and oakmoss into the base, but there is a big noxious gorilla in the room and that gorilla is a lily — to be specific, "Goldband Lily of Japan", which is almost immediately evident and comprises the entirety of the middle. I don't know what a goldband lily of Japan is and in all honesty I couldn't even be bothered to look it up, but I don't like it at all, and I don't want it in my chypres.

It is a waste of time to second-guess an artist once their work is completed and unleashed upon the world but all I can think about is what might have been. As ever, the bottle is stunning, and most of the fragrance inside works: the top of the scent is inventive and the base is classic oakmoss-patchouli-labdanum chypre, although it should have been more evident earlier on (which is to say not drowned out by that massive lily). Had she constructed a slightly more conventional middle with a bouquet of flowers instead of that one gigantic cultivar — there is nothing wrong with roses and jasmine! — then this could have been an enormous success and I would be singing its praises, because nobody is making proper chypres any more. Instead, here is what I am left with:

Didn't like it, would still recommend you sample it if you are the kind of person who likes oversized and not especially attractive lily scents, but please don't wear it around me.

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