This week Bryan is going to join us so we can have a foursome involved in fourplay in perfume… PG of course. Not that PG, the Parfumerie Generale PG. We’re going to laud or laugh at Psychotrope (cyclamen, violet, jasmine, lilac wood, black leather, musk) and Ether de Lilas Blanc muchlongername (passion-flower, orange blossom, bark, mandarin, lilac, leaves, iris and musk).
Psychotrope is for psychos?
March: I’ve tried to wear this three times, and it horrifies me. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of fragrances that have that effect on me. I feel about this the way some people feel about Black March; it’s cold and nightmare-inducing. I had this preconception (I have no idea why) this was some sort of pretty white floral, which probably added to my freak-out. This is like … a zombie wearing a bondage suit? I give up, I’m baffled. It doesn’t even smell bad; it’s not nasty like one of those Etat things. It smells mostly of violet, leather and musk, which is a combo I love in, say, Cuir Amethyste. But this. This smells like bottled fear to me. (What’s that horrible, violent movie where they bring out the gimp? This is like watching that scene.) Okay, I am a big fat baby, and I am going to wash it off right now and take a soothing hot bath, followed by something reassuring and girlish and tender.
Patty: Very little cyclamen, very little violet. Mostly black leather and musk. I feel like I got mugged by Cruella DeVille’s boots… and I like it. This is cold and dark and like a slightly more snuggly Bvlgari Black. Did it kill the cyclamen and violets? Is that what that “other” smell is in there, trapped, starving violets? So sad, a cruel perfume.
Bryan: Though I haven’t smelled it in a while, I’m quickly reminded of the icy concoction that is Les Nez’s Unicorn’s breath, only here, we have the unicorn’s burp…after she has feasted on withering violets and Harry Potter’s forgotten shoe. Ok, I’m being a bit flippant, I get a somewhat inoffensive fresh floral with a touch of old leather, and not the good kind. I will have to agree with Lee and say that it isn’t for me. Thankfully, it remains close to the skin.
Lee: This is an ice maiden scent. For some reason, I imagined it was a tuberose number – on sniffing, it isn’t. It seems a little similar, at least in descriptive terms, to Ether de Lilas (I wrote my comments on that one first, hence the lack of narrative clarity. You’ll have to live with it): starts out green and watery. Then the white florals come through with something faintly rubbery / plasticky. Maybe the ice maiden is dressed in latex – who knows? It’s not a scent I warm to, because it’s entirely without warmth. I love some chilly perfumes (Iris Silver Mist, I’m looking at you, beautiful), but this one doesn’t speak to me in any language I understand. I don’t actively dislike it, but if I sniff it for too long in one go, there’s a shrill quality that tickles my throat and makes my head start to tighten. I’ll leave it for others to love.
Ether Lilath ith tho pretty
Patty: If anyone below me says one bad word about this one, I’m gonna stomp ’em! Ether Lilas truly pulls off the miraculous — takes a sweet flower, the lilac, makes it sweeter, but somehow the concoction becomes better than it should be when the perfumer tries to do such a horrendous thing. I don’t get the references to En Passant. This one and En Passant, while both having lilac in them, are very different in feel and approach. I love them both for very different reasons. One is a Lilac encased in crystal sugar and laughter, and the other is a lilac wreathed in bread and tears.
Lee: What a purty perfume for wafty ladies lingering in languid ways over a glass of iced peach tea. It’s so pretty, it should come with a parasol. It’s sharp, almost astringent in a green and clean way, in its initial blast, but then immediately softens to a haze of watery floral loveliness. You know those classic 70s shampoo ads where they seemed to smear the camera lens with vaseline (steady!) to make it soft focus, and turn down the colour so that blues and reds were muted (did you have Timotei Stateside? That’s what I’m referring to I think)? It’s the atmosphere of that, bottled. Gives En Passant a definite run for its money, without the cucumber and breadsticks.
March: Well… huh. Ether de Lilas opens with a showy florality that makes me think of that Gwyneth Paltrow LE (Pleasures?), if you can wrap your mind around that. Then it becomes all about the lilac. Lilac is hard to do well, in my opinion. Too much and it gets that plastic-Glade vibe; too little and it’s some granny toilet water. Ether is neither of those. It’s got a sweet, semi-gourmand note which I’m assuming is some trick of the orange blossom and musk — it’s like candied lilac (caramelized lilac?) I’m alternately charmed and a little revolted. It’s very pretty; I’d give it to someone, but I think I’ll stick with my beloved En Passant.
Bryan: At first sniff I thought, dude, where’s my lilac? (I know, horrific reference). I wait a few minutes and there she is. I am at a loss as to the comparisons to En Passant. Where Giacobetti’s lilac is brilliant, PG’s, for me, is somewhat watery. That is not to say pale or unbalanced (so retract the claws Patty, please). I smell what March brilliantly calls semi-gourmand and without it, I’d pass. This is a lovely spring scent, but I’m rather unimpressed with what I’d hoped would be magnificent. I want a bold lilac; pretty has been done.