I have a vicious sweet tooth. So every few months I give up sweets. Because I´ve discovered that if I quit hitting the Belgian chocolates and crà¨me brulee quite so hard, other sweet possibilities become more alluring. I can appreciate the juicy bite of an Asian pear. Just thinking about a Satsuma mandarin makes my mouth water. I don´t view these mini-vacations from regular dessert as deprivation. Instead, they´re a way for me to up my daily pleasure quotient by doing something new.
Anyway, the above crossed my mind as I was thinking about my recent discoveries among the less amped-up perfumes. Don´t get me wrong – you know how much I love strong fragrance. I´m the gal who layers CB Musk with Mitsouko and lives to tell the tale. (My advice: don´t). From buttcrack to horseback, I´m all about the skank. However. I´ve also figured out that, like taking a break from my sugar binges, stepping back from the hard stuff for a day or three allows me to appreciate some really beautiful muted fragrances. No, seriously. My nose recalibrates, and instead of boooooooring my brain says, huh. That´s interesting.
Which is precisely what happened recently with two Kenzo Flower fragrances. No, do not click away to GFY immediately upon reading the word “Kenzo.” I don´t like the original FlowerbyKenzo at all. For what it´s worth, if you triangulate the reviews on MUA, folks who liked the original FlowerbyKenzo tended not to like its variations, and vice versa. So if all you´ve tried is the first one, please read on.
The original FlowerbyKenzo is not insipid, precisely, but it´s too sweet and waaaay too powdery to be anything I´d want to wear. (Notes of the original Flower are: Wild Hawthorne, Bulgarian Rose, Parma Violet, Cassia, Hedione, Cyclosal, Opoponax, White Musk, Vanilla.)
FlowerbyKenzo Le Parfum, on the other hand, has notes of Amber, Opoponax Resin, White Musk, Bourbon Vanilla, Almond, Parma Violet, Bulgarian Rose. Look closely and observe the difference, because as far as I´m concerned they´re scents with two different goals. Le Parfum is all about the amber, almond and vanilla, they´ve done away with the dreaded hawthorne, and rearranged the emphasis away from the florals. (The latter doesn´t list hedione, but given the warm glow and its presence in the air around me, I bet it´s still in there). It´s a rich, creamy comfort scent that manages a floral note without a sugar overdose. My only complaint about this one is that it´s absolutely gone in less than two hours.
Kenzo Flower Oriental, on the other hand, is surprisingly tenacious, and well worth exploring. Notes are: Bulgarian Rose, Violet, Vanilla, Musk, Sichuan Pepper, Kyara, Chinese Incense. This is a more steamlined scent than either the original Flower or Le Parfum, and once you get past the rose and violet of the opening, it dries down to a meditative incense. I probably need some sort of 12-step program for incense addicts, but it´s a note that makes me weak at the knees. It´s not really like any other incense I can think of; I can compare it to SMN´s Citta di Kyoto, with Kenzo being more refined (or less robust and herb-y, depending on your perspective.) At the same time, the drydown is austere and rather masculine.
KenzoAmour is a fragrance I dismissed immediately the first time I smelled it, because I was in the middle of some skank jag at the time. Notes are: Frangipani Blossoms, Cherry Blossoms, Tanakha Wood, Incense, Thai Rice Steam, Vanilla, White Tea from China. It starts off more floral, with the frangipani in full force, but dries down fairly quickly into milky woods – the fragrance equivalent of whatever your favorite creamy comfort food would be, assuming you have one. I´m tempted to reveal my fondness for tapioca, but that´s such a potential gross-out that instead I´ll compare it to the cream of wheat my mother made me when I was sick or sad as a child, topped with whole milk and sugar. The “Thai rice steam” is strongly reminiscent of cooked farina cereal, and I suppose whether that holds any charm for you as a fragrance would be individual choice. Given my general aversion to sweet, foody scents based on chocolate and dessert, I´m not in a position to judge you.
The surprising thing about both Oriental and Amour was the lasting power. They lasted most of the day – yes, muted, but decidedly there. They are both skin scents, but if you´re not trying them on in my usual fashion — between the new Tom Ford and Badgley Mischka, on a scent bender – you might be pleasantly surprised. I was surprised, anyway. I´m beginning to think there´s a whole world of lighter fragrances out there that I haven´t bothered with because I´ve been too busy upping the voltage – bigger, stronger, brassier, sexier. I´m always going to be the Queen of Skank, don´t worry (next week: Leatherfest!). But if you´re like me – if you´ve dismissed entire lines of fragrance because they´re “too light” — stop and consider whether you´re cheating yourself out of the luminous beauty of watching a candle flame in the dark because all you want are fireworks.
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