Apologies to all non-American and non-UK residents here, as this post assumes, stupidly, that you live in either place. I do actually know lots of you don’t. But I’m writing about American ‘fumes today.
I know we’re two nations divided by a common language, but sometimes I just don’t get why one scent, popular and ubiquitous over here, is only in a handful of stores out there, and vice versa. Is Dolce and Gabbana’s The One still hard to get hold of in the States? It seemed like the most overpromoted perfume on TV here during the Christmas spend. Though the spend itself appears to have shrunk a little as the wind of global recession blows down everyone’s now loose fitting trousers. What other women’s scents fall into this category? I know Light Blue doesn’t saturate the market here like it does Stateside.
In terms of menswear, a default setting scent across the pond appears to be John Varvatos. From what I’ve read at http://basenotes.net, wearing this is as natural a stage to go through as drinking too many kegs of beer, skinny-dipping and getting pleasure from farting in the bath. I’ve only seen it once over here – in Liberty of all places, amongst very exclusive niche numbers. Online, it’s overpriced compared to the nickel you can buy it for Stateside, though there does seem to be a grey market stash currently being auctioned on eBay. The ‘fell off the back of a lorry (aka truck)’ supply?
Well, I managed to get hold of some of this juice, so what’s a Brit man’s take on it? You know, it ain’t bad. But, to start with bad, I think the list of supposed ingredients is frankly hilarious (medjool, Mediterranean herbs, West Indian Tamarind tree leaves – Jamaican or Guyanan? It does make all the difference, ajowan, eaglewood etc.), especially if I’m meant to belief that medjool dates have been squeezed into the bottle. Hell, I love them, but I’m not sure that fruity accord is some special CO2 extraction of their innate essence. Equally hilarious is the bloke intoning over the fragrance concept section of the Varvatos website. I guess I should be thankful I’ve learned how I’m supposed to pronounce the name…
Onto the good. So, though this does the fruity top notes that linger and play before being joined by a woody oriental drydown (with a touch of leathery musk?), I get its appeal. It’s individual enough to stand out from the likes of Polo Black, yet without any quirky edges. Can I also say that the bottle design has feel appeal too, and I don’t often feel anything for bottles. It’s a very synthetic smelling scent, and I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way, and though its vanillic drydown is generic, there’s enough to hold your interest lightly without it being distracting. I just wish companies could be more honest about their juices, instead of claiming that they’re the first ever to use eaglewood, or extract of Ladakh prayer flag…
And it’s a bargain everywhere. I wouldn’t mind young, good looking men smelling of this. Or ugly ones either. I might even wear it once or twice myself, though I’m definitely outside its market sector… Anyone sniffed the Vintage? I’m guessing that’s aimed – ha! – at the 30something market. Not that I’m there for much longer either…
Onto stranger and more delectable shores, to perfumes that do distract and hold your attention and tease and tempt. The siren’s call, in fact. Someone tie me up to the mast, cos Neil Morris is making me want to take the plunge. Louise was sent some samples by the ever-generous, ever lovely Chaya, and being the love she is, she sent bits and pieces of them on to me. There was a lot to sniff, and Louise being Louise, she threw all sort of other goodies in there (vintage Mitsy extrait – hello!). The two that have grabbed me, shaken me up (Judy! – Dickensian humour – sorry) and left me reeling are Dark Earth and Burnt Amber, the collaboration between Neil and the aforementioned Chaya.
Dark Earth does exactly what it says on the tin. Wet patchouli gives it a soil like quality, some musk (I think) an animalic edge and there are saplike green notes in there to brighten the darkness a little. But this is a forest of mystery and perhaps terror, an adult location for Hansel and Gretel stories, like the once inhabited Harrikin of William Gay’s disturbing Twilight, though the rain has ceased and there might be a way out yet. Now, this sounds menacing, but it’s actually beautiful. I’ve missed out the floral facets, the light that breaks through the loam and gloaming, in spite of the tall trees that hide the way you came. A perfume of solitary comforts, where the earth is the earth is the earth, the place from whence we came and to where we shall return.
(footnote – four hours later, I resprayed Dark Earth. It was all soapy clean fresh green and not dark at all. I’m blaming my off-centre nose and hoping my first impression was the more accurate one.)
Though I liked Dark Earth, the miracle is Burnt Amber, as it does the remarkable and makes me love an amber dominant fragrance for the first time (Ambre Narguile doesn’t count – it’s honey, spices, tobacco and apple pie to me). Sticky and fruity and maybe medicinal to begin with, but in the best possible lick-me-all-over way, it gets smoky and tarry and dirty and murky. My oh my, I need a bottle. For some of you, it’ll be too close to Patchouli24 with additional tyres burning in the background, and only a lone marshmallow or two being overtoasted on the brush fire. For me – it makes me hungry. Hungry and lusty (tmi? Blame the sirensong). And though it doesn’t quite make me feel better, I sniff it and no longer care that I feel unwell. Neil and Chaya – when’ll this be up on Neil’s website? A delirious fan needs to know. Pray tell.