One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Getting Things Wrong: Omnia Profumo Oro and Argento

I swear I am not trying to be difficult about this but I cannot understand how Omnia Profumo came by the names of their newest scents, Oro and Argento.

"Oro" means "Gold" and "Argento" means "Silver", and of course you may name your scents after precious metals, and you may do it without any indication of sex. There are lots of women's scents named after gold: Estee Lauder did it, and La Prairie, and Donna Karan, and I bet you can find fifty more if you try. A hundred. Likewise there are men's fragrances with silver in the title or just flat-out named Silver, and I have no problem with that.

If you are going to specifically assign genders to your metals by launching a pair of scents, though, then you don't really have a whole lot of choice: in Western culture (and some others besides), gold is associated with the sun and both are male, and silver is associated with the moon and both are female. Ask anyone. Ask Marge Piercy. Ask Oscar Wilde, whose "Salome" is drenched with references to silver and to the silvern moon, which is likened to a princess with feet like white doves, a dead woman looking for dead things, a virgin who has never defiled herself with men, a madwoman seeking lovers. Ask St. Francis of Assisi. I honestly don't much care what you call your scent and I honestly don't care either who wears it (my collection would be a miserable shadow of itself if I limited myself to the masculine side of the aisle), but if you're going to make a specific point of gendering metals, then the sun is gold and gold is male and the moon is silver and silver is female: they just are.

But no. Omnia Profumo has released two scents, one for women and one for men, but the women's is called Oro and the men's is called Argento, and that is not right.

And neither are the scents, as it turns out.

Oro is amusing in small doses, say a pinpoint on your skin, but when you apply it with abandon you find that you are wearing a big floral, and not really a very pleasant one, dominated by a huge cyclamen note joined by a bunch of lilac, and I have yet to meet a lilac scent that I think works. The base is oriental, and unfortunately rather cloying.

The men's doesn't even have amusement on its side, though. The top is an aquatic-spicy-citrus accord that will recall a hundred other modern men's scents, only not as good. After that it gets very ugly very fast, with more of that spindly, aggressive spice (it doesn't even have the grace to be warm and inviting) and some of the least appealing leather I can imagine. There are a pile of other things in there (you can read the list here if you like), but what you are getting is a slightly orientalized variant on a standard ozonic-fresh-spicy men's scent, and it is really not a pleasant thing.

As I always do, I wore them repeatedly, despite wanting to wash them off, to be sure I wasn't missing anything. I wasn't. I actually started to feel kind of bad for the copywriters at Luckyscent (from whom I got my samples), because they have to make everything sound equally glorious and desirable, and I love the idea of working with scents but if I had to lavish rapturous praise on the likes of Oro and Argento I would probably just quit and find myself a hermitage.

And now I have thrown the remnants of the vials into the trash can, and I am going to try to scrub these off my skin and wear something decent.


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