While waiting impatiently for KenzoAmour Le Parfum to show up at our local Sephora, I got bored and ordered up a reasonably-priced bottle of Kenzo 7:15 AM in Bali, which I’ve seen random nice things said about on Basenotes, MUA and elsewhere. I didn’t really even look at the notes; I knew there was some vanilla, and it sounded like a comfort scent. Nobody loves some Kenzo comfort more than I do.
I am not sure what, precisely, I was expecting a fragrance evoking morning in Bali to smell like — woods? Rice steam? Beach? Anyhow, this definitely wasn’t it. I went online and looked it up. The notes are very simple: jasmine, vanilla, orchid and passionfruit. Done by Daphne Bugey, it’s classified as a fruity floral and seems to be exclusive to duty free shops, as reviewers keep mentioning that’s where they found it, and I think it’s first in a travel series concept.
7:15 AM in Bali opens with a strongly citrus note, somewhere between grapefruit and orange, and a not particularly sweet or gourmand, slightly powdery vanilla. Over the next 10 or 15 minutes the strongest citrus fades and I am left with the vanilla overlaying something sweet-tart and powdery, which I assume is the passionfruit, and that’s … pretty much the whole story for the rest of the day. It’s not overwhelmingly strong, but it’s not exactly fleeting, either, a characteristic it shares with KenzoAmour, at least on me.
Full disclosure — I have no idea what a passionfruit smells like. I spent some time online, and it’s humorous — you get the “passionfruit smells like passionfruit” problem, like “describe the color green.” But passionfruit is apparently used to create a grapefruit smell in some body products, and I saw various descriptors evoking citrus, tartness, and creamy exoticism. So I’m going to guess that the unfamiliar smell that coexists the entire time with the vanilla is passionfruit. That non-vanilla part is a blend of grapefruit, cranberry, tangerine and mango, and that’s about the best I can do. There’s a minuscule amount of gaminess in the long drydown (this thing lasts 16 hours, easily, on me) and I don’t know whether that’s the jasmine talking or the passionfruit.
Over the past year I’ve turned into a huge fan of vanilla, which probably surprised me as much if not more than it might have surprised you. I like vanilla with all sorts of things, including smoke, wood and leather. But not, as it turns out, with citrus. Vanilla and citrus just smells … wrong to me. I think it’s what I find so troublesome about actually trying to wear Shalimar Lite. It’s the olfactory equivalent of biting into a chocolate from the heart-shaped box and discovering you just snagged the lemon cream. Ugh. I hate those things. It’s a matter of personal taste, obviously, but I don’t think vanilla and citrus play nicely together on their own. Dark smells like leather and woods damp the vanillic sweetness down. Citrus doesn’t give vanilla anything substantial to anchor itself to; if anything it magnifies the cloying aspect.
So I shopped it around. I wore it on and off all week, asking friends, family and (heck, why not?) random strangers what they thought. It’s not difficult to wear, just a little peculiar — that unfamiliar sweet smell along with the vanilla. Maybe they were just being nice to the crazy lady, but they loved it. Women thought it was “sexy.” One man said, “delicious.” So what do I know? I guess it’s all that and a bag of chips (or more accurately, a bag of foreign candy.) It’s an odd little thing, and I have to admit it grew on me. This morning I was done fiddling with it, but I put it on anyway. Just because I wanted to.
Outside of airports, 7:15 AM in Bali can be found without too much difficulty at various e-tailers for around $40 for 50 ml. Image: fragrantica.com