One Thousand Scents

Friday, July 05, 2013

His and Hers: El Mono de la Tinta and La Cautiva by Fueguia 1833

There are 18 scents in the Fueguia 1833 collection, and I am not going to spin them out over 18 weeks, so after last week's starter we'll probably just have them in twos and threes instead.

El Mono de la Tinta, "The Ink Monkey", is named for a Borges story about a creature that haunts writers and drinks from their inkwells. It doesn't smell like ink: it smells like a Comme des Garçons scent, for better or worse. My initial reaction was, "Ugh — what the hell is that? It smells like urine. Worse. Fermented urine." Once the human-filth aspect has burned away — and it does, in a few minutes – a dark cedar-and-sandalwood quality is revealed and the whole thing settles down to a dry, austere, spicy wood scent, masculine and bafflingly sexy, a Cistercian monk with a close-cropped beard and bedroom eyes. I'd wear it: I'd just put a clothespin on my nose for ten minutes or so.

La Cautiva, "The Captive", knows how to make a good first impression: it starts off with an immensely cheerful blast of tart blackcurrant and sugary vanilla. It's basically a huge mass of fruity cotton candy. It is charming and bright and huge. But then it just keeps being this never-ending cloud of tart-sweet, almost a parody of modern drugstore perfumery for young women, and the pleasure starts to wear thin. There's no development at all: it just deflates, eventually. It's so single-minded and ultimately boring that I don't believe for an instant anyone could wear this repeatedly and not get tired of it, which is bad enough, but that it costs what it does ($150 for 30 mL, $240 for 100 mL) is borderline criminal.

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