KenzoAmour Florale, with a side of Flower

KenzoAmour FloraleWhen I popped by Sephora last week to check out their new fall nail colors (see post yesterday), I ran into KenzoAmour Florale, which I am pretty sure was a spring release but has just shown up in our local stores.   I can´t resist pasting in the Sephora online blurbage for this: “In Asia, the light is written in flowers that whisper their solar freshness onto your skin. This scent’s gently dazzling impression begins with a luminous, airy top. The essence reveals its luminous, floral heart and comes to completion with a clear, sensitive base. The hours pass by gracefully, given away by changing light, enticing you to fall in love.”

Perhaps I´m becoming a bitter hag prematurely, but does that mean anything to anyone reading this?   I recognize the words as written in English, and yet.  The whole thing makes me tilt my head to one side in bafflement, like my dog when he´s watching the television.   My six-year-old could write something more edifying.

I am something of a Kenzo fangirl.  KenzoAmour is probably my favorite, with Flower Oriental, Flower (Le Parfum) and Indian Holi not far behind.  There is nothing out there quite like KenzoAmour when I need comfort on a miserable winter day.  If it is ever discontinued, I will mourn its passing.  The KenzoAmour LP was interesting, but what it gained in benzoin-ambery yumminess it lost in luminous transparency, and it never replaced the regular in my affections.  Also, I know that, for those who can work with the weight of Kenzo, scents like Amour and Oriental are surprisingly tenacious.

Notes for Florale are neroli, grapefruit, blackcurrant, cardamom, frangipani, rosebud, gardenia, white musk, cedarwood.  The original KenzoAmour is built around woods, incense, and rice steam.  So, you might take a guess that the Florale flanker doesn´t have much in common with the original beyond the bottle (and more about that bottle in a bit.)  In this case, you´d be correct – Florale is, as its name implies, a floral.  It is sweet without being sweeeeet – certainly by the standards of much of what lurks on the Sephora shelves, it is relatively restrained.  The fruit and citrus is around only briefly, although the cardamom adds a welcome, nuanced spiciness.   The florals read as an indistinct, pale haze rather than as individual accent notes.  As it dries down it gets a bit muskier and woodier, and despite the list of notes I don´t find the fragrance particularly “feminine.”  The musk is a little sour on me.  Florale is a light skin scent after a couple of hours.  I found it a disappointment, although I’m having trouble deciding precisely why.   It’s not like I find Kenzo scents (collectively) provocative or awe-inspiring, and I’m not saying they’re genius.  But for what they are, they are often delicious little things.  This one, not so much.  It’s the sort of scent that is just good enough to remind me that I could be wearing something better, but not comforting or warm or X enough to justify its floral-musky existence.

Online photos like the one at top really don´t do the KenzoAmour Florale bottle justice.  It´s clear glass at the top and bottom, while the center portion appears etched on the interior, with the clearness slowly fading into the etched (frosted?) portion, which looks like milk glass.  Unlike the Amour parfum gold bottle, which looked  kind of cheesy (in my opinion), like it had been spray-painted in a craft shop, the varied glass of Florale works beautifully with the clean, organic lines of the bottle.  Assuming you find that iconic bottle attractive in the first place — and you´re forgiven if you don´t — rendered in a heavy, frosted glass it is eye-candy in a refined, less-is-more way.

Kenzo FlowerTrying to figure out how I felt about Florale, I retried Kenzo Flower (technically, I think: FlowerByKenzo) for the umpteenth time.  I appreciate the irony of my long-standing dislike for Flower, which must surely be Kenzo´s best known and best selling scent.  Its popularity remains inexplicable to me.  I can´t say that I liked it this time, either, but repeat exposure means that I dislike it less, and I definitely prefer it to Florale.  Part of it is smell dissonance; the first 20 minutes of Flower on my skin is almost pure baby powder, and baby powder to me doesn´t mean pampering – it means babies, and babies are pretty much nothing but crying and work, no matter how much you love them.  It´s like the people who smell eugenol (cloves) in fragrance and can´t think of anything but toothache and miserable trips to the dentist.  Our smell memories are so individuated – on vacation in Maine, we were giving all the kids baby aspirin for their sunburn one day, and my sister-in-law mentioned how much she hates the smell of baby aspirin.  To her, the smell is unhappy because it is associated with being sick as a child and needing medicine.  I have the same association but in my mind it´s a happy one – baby aspirin is the smell of my mother taking care of me when I was sick.  In other words, the smell of baby aspirin is the smell of being lovingly tended to.

The drydown of Flower has really grown on me, though -once the violet and rose blow off I´m left with the funky, resin-y kick of opoponax, musk and hawthorne, along with the luminous glow of hedione, and what´s not to love about that?  I wonder if I keep trying it whether I´ll find myself wanting a bottle in a year or two.

  • 2scents says:

    I sniffed this (rather against my will) in Nordstrom’s a few weeks ago. I tried to evade the SA by professing a love of orientals; she had me try Flower Oriental (which I did want to try someday) calling it “our (Nordstrom’s) most Oriental fragrance.” Okaaay. I did manage to sneak off and sniff the new prada, the escale a portofino and lauder dealy. Oh, so the fleur thing; not memorable, bottom line. Lauder dealy: nice but indestructible (even survived a swim in the lake). Love baby aspirin scent (I get a little hit of it in Theorema!)Thanks for the reviews!

  • mals86 says:

    I thought Ca Sent Beau was quite pleasant, like a drive in a top-down convertible, but rather too masculine for me. (I’ve never yet found a fragrance to be too girly for me. Too young, too ditzy, or too slutty, yes; too feminine, no.) I have a mini of CSB if you’d be interested in it, Karin – just let me know. I’m mals86 on fragrantica or MUA.

  • karin says:

    Hmmm…I recently dropped Flower into my “meh” box. Now I need to try it again and pay attention to the drydown!

    Just sent my purse spray of L’Eau Par Kenzo to my niece cause it also bored me and I bet she’ll like it a lot – good starter light, aquatic fragrance for a young girl who’s into sports and the outdoors. BTW, I also sent her samples of Miss Dior Cherie, Fracas, and Dzing! I’m grooming her to be a perfumista – ha ha.

    Back to Kenzo, I have Amour in the adorable Ryoko bottle. Love it in winter. Doubt I’ll like L’Elephant cause most spicy scents generally don’t appeal to me at all.

    I have to say that the original Kenzo fragrance (aka Ca Sent Beau) has me intrigued after I read Tania’s review in PTG. But I don’t see much chatter about it on the blogs/boards. Anyone out there tried it? What say you?

  • sybil says:

    You know what…I can’t do either one of these. Don’t know why, but both smell bad (Flower is particularly yuck…acrid in some way I can’t place). On the plus side, they quickly vanish…whatever. I’m grumpy because I have to go mow the lawn now–all the rain means it’s a nonstop round of mower action. The plus side is lots of fresh cut grass to smell…

  • Disteza says:

    I’ve never been a big Kenzo fan–the only one I thought was intersting on me was Jungle Elephant, but I changed my mind after it entered the Crayola stage of the drydown. Doesn’t sound like Florale would have a chance on me what with all of that “clear”, “light”, and “luminous” going on. I’ll be sticking to my dark, deep, and treacly. On another wacky skin chemistry note, I sprayed on some Safran Troublant saturday and nothing but…wait for it…cumin!! Skipped the saffron and rose entirely, turned into nothing but cumin with a hint of vanilla! I sprayed it on my SO just to make sure the juice hadn’t gone off, and there was the saffron. Based off of that article last week that Helg posted over on Perfume Shrine I’m beginning to wonder if I don’t suffer from the same crazy skin as Estee Lauder. Sorry for the mini-rant; had to vent somewhere… =)

    • Disteza says:

      D’oh–that article was actually on Grain de Musc, posted by carmencanada; guess I should actually check my references before I post!

    • March says:

      Seriously? Are you sure your bottle didn’t go off. That’s very odd. I am the cuminofier (not that I am complaining, mind you) and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten cumin from ST… but I can’t face trying today because it’s 98 degrees and I’ll vomit. 🙂

      • Disteza says:

        Nope, tried on my unsuspecting SO for “juice quality assurance” and it was just fine on him; he made some snide remark about what a dirty girl I must be to smell like that and got summarily smacked for it. The nerve!

    • Disteza says:

      Come to think of it, it probably wasn’t cumin, given that I don’t see it anywhere in the notes–it was probably a hit-and-run sandalwood funk! I get those occasionally from some sandalwood frags–they go really funky on me, and smell sorta cumin-y with some sweaty mold on top. I can’t imagine what I did to offend the poor Safran so badly.

  • Frenchie says:

    Hmmm, sounds intriguing. I liked Amour for a bit but then got bored. It was too foody 🙁
    I’m a big Kenzo fan though. I adore Jungle L’Elephant, it’s just crazy.

    • March says:

      L’Elephant is just enormous fun, in all senses.

      • mals86 says:

        I liked L’Elephant too – which shocked the heck out of me, because I hate hate hate (where’s the infinity symbol when you need one??) Opium, and L’E smells like a half-caff Opium with a whopping dose of Dr. Pepper to me, wheee!

        I found Amour dullllll. Sleep-inducing, but not in the good relax-into-the-pillow way, more in the must-stay-awake-so-I-don’t-drive-into-the-guardrail way. So sad, because that bottle feels so good in the hand. (Freudian much?) I liked Flower, though not enough to buy a bottle.

  • erin says:

    Yes, the ad copy sounds like something that would come out of a random phrase generator. Reminds me of teaching freshman comp back in grad school where so many of the student paragraphs read like a High Modernist experiment! This is why I’ve always thought that poets should be hired to name scents and do all writing for the ads–kind of like Marianne Moore did for Henry Ford when he was looking to name what ultimately became the Edsel (they didn’t use her name unfortunately and look what happened to that car!)…

    • Gretchen says:

      I just googled “Marianne Moore edsel”, and yes, I wish she’d been naming perfumes too. “Pastelogram”, “Mongoose Civique”. . . who wouldn’t want to drive those cars?

    • March says:

      Do you ever accidentally find yourself on one of those scraper sites that steal content and then “tweak” it slightly to try to disguise the theft? There are lots of perfume ones … they are often really humorous to read.

  • Nava says:

    I smelled this at Bloomingdales last week when I went to check out Lola – which by the way is supposedly a Bloomies exclusive until the end of the month, which is why you couldn’t find it at Nordies.

    I’m into all things orange blossom lately and I really liked this. As for the blurbage, It makes me chuckle in the same way reading Chinese food takeout menus makes me chuckle. Such as this blurbage from a local establishment:

    “We would like you to know how we prepare a chicken dish…We take whole chicken de-bone it carefully, trim away all visible fats and skin, cut in to appropriate bite size and prepare it with plenty of fresh vegetables. The resulting dish is high in fiber content, and low in animal fat, nutritious and delicious.”

    And if that wasn’t enough, how about some “Double Impact”: “Tender chicken 7 well marinated large strip of beef carefully fried then sauteed in a tangy orange peeled sauce with dry pepper, scallions and orange zest.” Damn, I’m hungry!

    • March says:

      Fine, now you’ve made me hungry too. Also, I think your menu was a *little too* coherent. They always read a little more random to me! 😉

      Fine, I GUESS I will have to go to Bloomies!

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    You may not end up wanting the bottle of Flower. I tried this one in my search for a wallpaper scent (inspired by your post.) I bought a sample through Beauty Encounter and tried it multiple times. I never hated it, but I never liked it well enough to actually buy a bottle. I finally added my sample of Flower to a little packet I put together for a perfume-wearing but non-perfumista friend. She didn’t particularly like it, but did like L de Lolita Lempicka.

  • HollyGolightly says:

    “The whole thing makes me tilt my head to one side in bafflement, like my dog when he’s watching the television” made me LOL. I know the feeling; reread the blurb, and LOL again. I actually did the head-tilting thing! I did enjoy 7:15 AM in Bali, but will have to check out Amour.

    • March says:

      You like Bali? I can never decide (unsniffed bottle purchase.) Sometimes I like its sweet strangeness (strange sweetness?) Other times it’s too close to circus peanuts or something equally unspeakable and I have to scrub it. But then I get to wanting it and put it on again…

  • Musette says:

    It lost me at ‘skin scent’. That’s always a deal-breaker for the >-)

    The bottle is pretty…but how on earth do you handle it? Where’s the sprayer-thingy? It looks like it’s got that “two-hands” thing going, sort of like bulb atomisers, which I adore visually and absolutely loathe from a practical standpoint.

    Man, I am one cranky >-) tonight. Sorry! And for the millionth time I find myself wondering why musk bugs me so much? Oh! That’s why I’m cranky – because the Dreaded Musk Drydown ruined my Nuui!

    Carry on!


    • March says:

      I can answer the bottle qwestion, since I have a couple of them (Amour and Holi) – see the horizontal line? That’s the demarcation of the cap (the cap is taller than the bottle.) You pop the cap off and it’s a regular sprayer. That would have looked ugly in clear glass, which must be part of the reason they made the center section opaque.

      I am so sorry about your DN fail. 🙁

      • Musette says:

        It’s actually kinda funny, when you consider all the actual DRAMA I went through (and took you through). What a ridiculous expedition….and exactly what I deserve! LOL!

        xo >-)

  • bryan says:

    Well, Miss March, I have to agree and well, disagree. I did an experiment. I sprayed the sucker like 15 times, not kidding, and still it was barely there….not just to me, but to my other half who is soooo sooo sensitive to smell (he exaggerates in my humble opinion). Now, I am a floral addict. And tropical flowers are my love, with Tuberose at the top. I was disappointed, like you, but for very different reasons.
    I love how you describe Kenzo parfums as delicious little things. That is spot on!

    • March says:

      Hm. Bad bottle? Had you been sniffing around in other things? This was the first perfume of the day when I tried it. I didn’t have any particular trouble smelling it (and sometimes I do, as you know) but gosh it was diffuse. I couldn’t pick any of the florals out; wouldn’t even have called it white florals without the cheat sheet.

      I know you like some Kenzos too. This one I think I can live without.

  • Jenn says:

    This one just showed up at our store and I was given a miniature. Granted, it does not resemble the original much but I really like it and the bottle is the best so far IMHO.