I got two things in the mail recently that made the topic of today’s post glaringly obvious.
Not to drag up anything from the past, but one of the interesting pieces of fallout about Perfumes: The Guide was the frequent complaint that it’s just the writers’ opinions! To which I would respond: well, yeah. Any form of critical review is by definition opinion on some level, from Robert Parker on wine to the dine-and-vote masses of Zagat — Zagat being proof in my view that popular opinion is often contradictory, uninformed and wrong. When it comes to criticism of anything, from food to movies to music, you can disagree with the bona fides of the reviewer, or you can nitpick individual reviews as uncharacteristically dimwitted mistakes made by normally sane individuals. For me it’s easy, at least regarding fragrance: if The Guide and I disagree on a fragrance, then they’re wrong. Or another way to look at it: YMMV, or Your Mileage May Vary, which to me jokingly acknowledges the very real possibility that we are smelling things, or describing them, differently. For instance, what struck me about trying Serge Lutens’ new Serge Noire at the Chicago Scentsation was how cumin-y it was on me — an assessment other people I asked to sniff (on my skin) totally disagreed with. I find these disagreements interesting and amusing rather than alarming; surely there’s room for your Borneo and my CB Musk Absolute, although possibly not in the same room. In the spirit of toasting our differences, today I have:
1) He Wood by Dsquared2, which I have been wanting to try since its release (that name!) and which Kevin graciously sent me a sample of. Notes are fir, musk, amber, violet leaf, aquatic accord, cedarwood, vetiver. Kevin says: “He Wood produces a lovely blend of violet leaves and flowers and holds on to that accord for almost the entire life of the fragrance on my skin” and “He Wood provides a new take on ‘wood’ â€” its smooth, bleached woods float on sweet, cool, lightly flower-scented water.” I say: only my fondness for Kevin kept me from posting the traditional Mr. Yuck symbol next to this review, although judging by Kevin’s writing the man has a great sense of humor. I got a giant smack of sub-Mousson level melon-y aquatic that left me sprinting for the sink. I think I am an aquatic-note magnifier. I did get to test the theory of stainless steel as a scent remover, though — you just use running water and the back of a spoon in place of one of those soap-shaped devices that are supposed to remove garlic and onion from your hands. It didn’t get rid of it 100% but it definitely removed most of the scent. Thank God. Kevin — peace, and feel free to rag anything I love in a future review, like the Montale Jasmin Full on its way to you now.
2) Chanel Beige, which Marina says “is a cold, somewhat arrogant beauty, a “better than thou” scent … a Proper Perfume in that it is abstract, complex… I happen to adore this kind of dressed-up, ladylike, slightly bitchy, coldly intense floral fragrances… whether you are attracted by this concept or not, you should smell Beige anyway, if only to refresh a memory of what a Perfume is supposed to be like. In this age of Smells, when perfumes are not supposed to be perfumey anymore, Chanel should be applauded for sticking to their guns and (once in a while) doing what they do best- timeless classics.” I bloglifted several quotes from her review because I love her point about Chanel issuing Perfumes in the age of Smells, but I disagree with her characterization of the scent as cold and bitchy. In fact, one of the things that strikes me smelling Beige is the luminous warmth it shares with No. 5 Eau Premiere, a gentle embrace instead of the slap you might logically be expecting from such a scent. Notes are hawthorn, freesia, frangipani and honey. The opening ten minutes of Beige are some rough road, akin to choking to death on the world’s most expensive triple-milled French bar of fancy muguet soap — it smells like the death-tendrils of muguet to me, although maybe it’s just the hawthorn being petulant. I was literally heading for the showers when the sun broke through — something expansively Chanel-floral, between Eau Premiere’s creamy ylang-ylang and 31 Rue Cambon’s raw-silk vigor. The third part an hour later is even weirder and my favorite; the honey becomes so pronounced and the scent simultaneously takes on a strange metallic note, and it came to me — Versace’s The Dreamer! Not the same, but something reminiscent of that wonderfully dissonant Tootsie-Roll auto-part accord, which I think most folks either love as I do or loathe. As Patty commented, this beige-named scent is “anything but bland,” and the lasting power of this particular addition to Les Exclusifs (which have been criticized for their wan performances) is extraordinary — still going strong 24 hours later on the back of my hand. Delicious.
PS For those of you who wanted it — I posted Musette’s Brownie recipe yesterday.