One Thousand Scents

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Judgement of Paris: What We Do In Paris Is Secret by A Lab On Fire

What We Do In Paris Is Secret is a tantalizing name, no doubt about it, as is A Lab On Fire, the house that launched it last year. They're not cranking out dozens of scents annually, for which they get credit: instead, they're hiring name perfumers — Sophia Grojsman, Thierry Wasser — to produce high-end fragrances (currently $110 for a 60-mL bottle) and apparently limiting themselves to three a year, which these days is an extraordinary show of restraint.

What We Do In Paris Is Secret was created by Dominique Ropion, who is also responsible for the literally flawless Casual Friday, cruelly discontinued (I have a big bottle which should last me years), and the baffling but much-loved Kenzo Jungle L'Elephant, as well as a number of other scents you may of heard of: Ysatis and Amarige for Givenchy, Mugler's Alien, and Dior Pure Poison, to name a few.

In the last twenty years, the dominant expression of fragrance for women has been the fruity floral, and presumably as a consequence of this, most of Ropion's assignments, no different from any other perfumer's, have been in this genre, which explains why he has had a hand in such popular unpleasantnesses as Gucci Accenti, Calvin Klein Euphoria, Very Irresistible by Givenchy, Paco Rabanne's Lady Million, and others it is best not to think too hard about. What We Do In Paris is a Secret is a heavy, sweet, cloying, chemical fruity floral as obnoxious as any I've ever smelled. With its radioactively pinging top note and its thick, mucky middle, it is horrible: just bringing the vial near my nose makes me wince. It's so dreadful that twenty minutes after putting in on the backs my hands (as I always do), I had to scrub it off. I could still smell it, so I scrubbed my hands again a few minutes later. Even then I couldn't stand the remnants of it, so I scrubbed a third time. I was finally reduced to spraying myself with CSP Vanille Abricot, something potent, something with covering power. A lot of people commenting on Luckyscent and Fragrantica just adore it, so go ahead, listen to them. But for the love of god, get a sample first, and try it out near soap and running water.

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