One Thousand Scents

Friday, October 28, 2011

Girls' Night Out: Fan di Fendi

Fan di Fendi looks like hot stuff. Sephora has written or unearthed a rather frantic bit of ad copy for it:

Fan di Fendi is the fragrance you just adore to adore. Like a hit refrain, it's insistent, addictive, and irresistible. Electrifying you, possessing you, haunting you. Getting under your skin, inhabiting you.

A radiant floral scent resting on a leather base, this wildly exciting eau de parfum pays tribute to Fendi's expertise with materials such as fur and leather—plus the arty, rock and festive spirit that defines Fendi. It diffuses Roman sun and electric nights, leather and roses, luxury and seduction.


And the print ad has three women writhing in the throes of passion in a nightclub:


But don't you pay any attention to that. Fan di Fendi starts out with a pleasantly sweet mélange of fruit, mostly citrus and blackcurrant, with a dairy undertone, a bowl of sherbet. After that, a charming, well-behaved floral bouquet, mostly smooth jasmine (no filthy indoles here) and tidy rose (every thorn and edge rounded off), wells up; a few hours later, the whole thing is seen to be sitting on a piece of buttery-soft suede, slightly musky in a warm and unobjectionable way.

Fan di Fendi is a perfectly nice and well-behaved fruity floral which would not smell out of place on a twelve-year-old girl. And isn't that sort of a problem, even ignoring the vast chasm between the way the fragrance is presented and what it really is?

There are already hundreds, maybe thousands, of fruity florals on the market already, with varying degrees of acceptability; most of them have that ghastly, inescapable synthetic freshness that makes you want to retire to a deserted island where you never, ever have to smell such things again, and the Fendi people should be given credit for avoiding this. But still: Fan di Fendi is a fruity floral, and there is nothing at all to mark it as different in any way from all the other hundreds like it. Many of them are being aimed at the very young: the childlike Mariah Carey Lollipop Bling scents clearly are, and you can imagine most of the other pop-superstar fragrances being clamoured for by twelve-to-sixteens. Many of the others seem to be aimed at women who want to be very young: I don't know how else to explain Marc Jacobs Lola.

What they all have in common is that they have no signature, nothing of any interest that could distinguish them one from the other: they're just another product to be churned out on an endless conveyor belt and spoon-fed to the ignorant. They have been engineered to produce a single unvarying response: "Oh, you smell nice." They don't smell good, exactly, not in any meaningful way, certainly not interesting, or great, or novel, or compelling, or intriguing: they smell nice. You can't ever imagine them as signature scents, because they don't even know how to write their own names.

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