I reached young adulthood in the 1980s – when the shoulder pads were big and the hair was bigger. Perfume was big too; I thought nothing of wearing Poison to the office, and out in public I was constantly awash in a sea of people rocking Giorgio or Opium (technically from the late 70s but huge on my college campus.)
When I saw the new Marc Jacobs scent, Decadence, with its poison-green bottle, snakeskin-embossed cap and chunky gold chain, it screamed Eighties Flashback to me. This impression is affirmed by the listed notes: plum, saffron, iris, Bulgarian rose, Sambac jasmine, orris root, amber, vetiver and papyrus wood. That sounds exactly like a list of ingredients for a big, sickly-sweet sillage monster I’d adore.
And for about five minutes, Decadence plays along. The plum and rose are massive, the jasmine is skanky, and there’s a syrupy quality to the whole thing that I love and that also reminds me why people support office bans on fragrance. Then the fragrance begins to quiet and it gets a bit peppery and woodsy; I was trying to decide how I felt about it when it simply collapsed like a meringue into a heap of vetiver/laundry-musky nothingness. The drydown is so enervating to sniff I can’t even work up some outrage about its mediocrity. You know how sometimes you sniff a scent-strip version of a perfume, and the entire thing seems weirdly flat and compressed compared to the actual fragrance? Well, Decadence is like that in its entirety. It’s annoying, too; early reviews on Fragrantica mention a lot of sneeze attacks, and the sharpish woodsy base that lingers for hours on the skin.
I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece from Marc Jacobs – the best thing about Daisy is the bottle, and it’s the kind of cheerful scent best worn by young girls who grow up and (one hopes) move on, but I’ve given it as a gift multiple times. Somehow I did expect more. The guy’s got a certain louche sensibility, and before he cleaned up he was a regular, hot tabloid mess in his personal life, so I figure he’s got as good a shot at bottling decadence as any of New York’s denizens of the dark. Instead I’m left with a sad scrubber and an incentive to dig up my ginormous vintage flacon of Poison from basement storage.
What’s your favorite old-school Sillage Monster? Did you love Poison the first time (or ever?) Would you wear it now? Raise your hand if you wore Giorgio! If not, did you ever drench yourself in something you look back on and cringe a little?