Sunday, September 23, 2012

Today's Perfumed Day

So today I went to NK just to look around, but also to see if they carried original Polo, in the green bottle. That's my xmas scent, see, or at least it has been for several years. Oddly, I can't seem to find it in Stockholm, except at the Ralph Lauren boutique, where evil is born (but where they carry great candle smells). Isn't that weird? That you can find that garish "Big Pony" line everywhere and Polo Blue as well but not the best in the line? Do Swedes have no taste in perfume? (Answer: They don't have any more taste than Americans.) So today I found myself in NK. I didn't find the Polo, but I didn't look very hard. I did stop at the Byredo counter, however, which I always stop at in NK. You can't really avoid it--location, location, location, location.

And I thought what I always think when I'm at the Byredo counter: "OK, I'm gonna approach this with an open mind.  Surely there's something amazing here that I've missed. I'm going to find it." Actually, that was my second thought, when the salesperson spoke to me (and they always do). My first thought was just "I'm going to spray on the incense one and then look around," but then the salesperson makes the effort of walking 3 steps and saying something and you feel like you have to look, so I thought I'd give the brand another sniff.  

Full disclosure: I applied for some job at Byredo before I even came over here, and I put in a lot of flattery that I didn't mean. And since I wasn't really familiar with the line anyway, I'm sure it came out hollow.  So if anyone thinks while reading this, "But you said in that letter...." there you go.

So I spray on the incense one, which is OK and I peep a little at the others. You know that Byredo is a Swedish brand, right? Well, you could say that Byredo perfumes are a lot like first impressions of Swedes themselves: well put together, pretty, doesn't say much. The exception here is the M/Mink, or M/Ink--whatever it is. The name is confusing. That's quite interesting.  I'm not sure if it's wearable, but it's interesting. Further props to Byredo for actually training their staff, as the girl who told me about it noted that it had Adoxal in it.  (Note the staff is well-trained. I don't think they care about the perfumes; I think they were hired more for how they look. But I've never met anyone at a perfume counter who knew or cared much about perfume.)  But anyway, so I start gandering through the line.

There was one called Black Saffron, and I was sure it would smell like Safraleine. But it didn't. It didn't even smell like saffron to me.  I found it confusing. There was another that smelled interesting, metallic I think I perceived it. The rep told me that it had notes of plum, leather and osmanthus (there's that training again!). Kinda interesting.  Of course, it was about to be launched in Dubai, so it would only be in sthlm for a short time. You know, I would love to smell what they sell in the Middle East.  Isn't Yatagan supposed to be big there?  Do you think it's all heavy orientals and animalic smells? Maybe one day I'll find out.

So I'm then smelling the regular brand, and I pick one up that I think was called Palermo.  Something with a P. And at first sniff, I'm like, "This is IT! This is the STUFF!!" So I spray it on a tester and then walk off, thinking I'd finally discovered something from Byredo that I could LOVE. 

But it wasn't to be. (I'm really feeling paragraphy today!)

The more I smelled it, the more it seemed like a generic citrus-leaf kinda thing. I think I'd hoped it would be this amazing, zippy green blast that they made last a long time, but it wasn't. I kept thinking that I could probably make something close enough to it, maybe with a tomato leaf base and some Stemone or Z3hex.  Or maybe just dilute some Stemone in alcohol--I love that stuff.  So the verdict on Byredo remains: Competently done fragrances that you could pretty much find cheaper elsewhere, although probably without the magnetic bottle cap. Their incense is loverly, but Commes des Garcons has an incense line. I'm sure Serge Lutens has something fantastic in incense. So yeah.

So I kept on through NK, kinda wondering whether I'd reached my limit with perfumes and nothing would wow me anymore.  So I walk into Hermes.  I smell the Vetiver Tonka, and I get it now. I didn't get it before, but now I think I see why they call it that.  I get what's supposed to connote vetiver and the very general impression of tonka intended.  All in all I think it's a weak effort, and I'm not sure who the person is who is supposed to wear it.   So I go over to the regular perfumes.  Un Jardin sur la toit (forgive any name butchering, pedants): I hadn't smelled this, so I was excited. But I didn't like it.  It smelled like a rehash of a bunch of other things they've put out. That vegetal note with that rosy thing. Blah. So then I smelled Un Jardin apres la Mousson, and...


I like this.  I really, really, really like this. My immediate thought was, "Hermes does an ozone." I don't know if that was right or not but who cares.  It's amazing. It's like someone took the ozone feel of Demeter's Thunderstorm or, to a lesser extent, Rain and made a real perfume out of it. Ozone, light flowers, green notes with a peppery feel, maybe some melon-type fruitiness(?)... And it lasts! On paper! Not sure about skin yet. But the point is that it's fantastic. Watery, natural, balanced, gentle. Sometimes it veers into these 'cool floral' notes that I'm not crazy about, maybe slightly into geranium territory, but that's fine, because the rest of it is so incredible.  I want to wear this every summer. I need a holiday to wear this. Maybe Celeditude? Maybe if they come out with an orange blossom version.

So then I smelled my old favorites, Bel Ami and Equipage, and HOLD THE PHONE!!!! Has Equipage been reformulated???? This doesn't smell like all the Equipage I've ever smelled.  Strangely enough, I like it better. Today's Equipage shimmered, practically sparkled. It's like someone took that part that I've always really liked about the scent, which reads to me as something like tonka/hay/chamomile/straw/golden, and turned it WAY up. At the first sniff, it was almost sibilant. But I was very pleased with it. It does seem like a much brighter fragrance now, which also means that it doesn't seem to have that crumpled, lived-in quality that I've seen it described with before. So it's not as soft and natural-smelling. I used to wear this to job interviews, but I'm not really sure if I could do that now.  Still, I quite like it.  I'd like to have both of them, but since I doubt I could, I'll take this new one.  If indeed it's the scent that's new and not my nose. But I know it doesn't smell like the bottle in my drawer.

As for Bel Ami, I think it smelled the same. It was hard to tell. Maybe everything smelled brighter in the store.  And then I smelled Rocabar again. I've smelled this before, but never fell head over heels in love with it like I did with Bel Ami, and then later Equipage. But I was smelling it today and realized that it smells quite like Baldessarini to me! But not as round. I don't really know if it's a conifer scent or not, but it kept making me think conifer.  So then I started wondering if maybe IT should be my new xmas scent! Or, rather, a xmas-and-general purpose-scent. And even though it presumably costs more than Baldessarini (which I do still love), I think I could probably take the risk that I wouldn't like it as much as I'd hoped, simply because it's Hermes, and I've never been dissatisfied by an Hermes scent before (not one that I've bought--I wore a sample of that one named for a bag once, and it was OK, but I wasn't like staining my shorts for it. And that Terre one--I've never gotten very much into it.), and if it's one that's been around as long as Rocabar (how long has it been around? I hope it wasn't introduced 5 years ago--that could get embarrassing), then maybe there's something to recommend it.

So that was today's perfumed day.  And just as a final aside, if anyone out there really, really LOVED that old Body Shop scent that was sort of chocolatey-themed but kinda naive and not as good as the Comptoir Sud Pacifique one but better than Dark Temptation and all the Bath and Body Works stabs at cocoa, then you're in luck. Get thee to Zara and get some of the Zara Chocolate Woman, because they're practically GIVING it away! It smells just like that Body Shop one (which always smelled like it should have been a base) and you can get the roll-on thingie for only 19 SEK (priced at 49)!! I'm probably gonna try to unscrew the top and maybe add some Isobutavan or ethyl maltol to it, or maybe Auratouch. Because I can't leave well enough alone.  And because it was only 19 SEK!!!! 19 SEK!!!! That's like $2 and change, but considering that everything here costs a fortune it's practically FREE!!! But don't expect sophistication. You can't get that for 19 SEK. Go now before they run out and all that's left are the underwhelming Blueberry and Cherry!!

Ed Shepp