It’s funny. The world outside feels ever increasingly fraught, frightening and apocalyptic. And yet the vast majority of us still eat our toast, take our morning shower, and head out for the office – leaving the safe familiarity of our lair and putting ourselves out there in humanity. In Japan, working from home was obviously never going to catch on – only a small fraction of the populace has ever ‘teleworked’ – it is just so antithetical to the drummed in ethos of the working as a group, and being seen to be working by that group – that unless we get a new Godzilla sized variant that kills you the second you leave the house, the population will be continuing to commute on the arteries of city trains and buses as per usual. Work is of paramount importance in the culture – and the office is where people feel valid.
For me, scent can be a way of easing this day to day; you might, in the back of your mind, be keenly aware of the fact that killer viruses are spreading across the world’s airwaves as you type on your computer surrounded by your co-workers, but at the same time you have to get a grip, and just get on with it. A normalizing, stabilizing – not exciting – accompanying fragrance as a light soundtrack to your day can be useful in this regard, which is why I am currently wearing Gucci Rush 2. It smells conformist enough and unthreatening to not offend, but also has a certain elevated elegance that lifts a person up as you gradually get through your day.
Nice Bergamote, which I assumed at first must mean a bergamot from the French Riviera town of Nice (because surely they wouldn’t just call a perfume ‘nice bergamot’……….would they?, but it seems as if they might have..) is part of a series of fragrances from Essential Parfums, a niche house that has a series of scents – a rose, a vanilla, a bois, a vetiver, etc – signed by established perfumers in the mould of Frederic Malle, but more affordable. I will be going back to assess all of these more closely, but my first pull was towards the bergamot, as I do love it so much as an essence (I am never without it) and always wonder if a perfumer will be able to use it effectively in a perfume when usually so many nasty and for me unwarranted elements start to appear after the first hour or so in almost all citrus fragrance and I end disappointed.
Nice Bergamote is intriguingly natural/synthetic, a fresh symbiosis of the two. Official notes are bergamot, jasmine and ylang ylang, with a cedar and tonka bean finish: on my skin the initial spritzes are voluptuously fresh lemon and bergamot boostered by airy additions like puffs of laundered steam – the kind of scent that is perfect for the weekday work journey, strap handling the train line and daydreaming as you make your way through the suburbs to the company. People will inwardly nod as you walk by: it is indeed exceedingly pleasant.
Later, unexpected, light, unobtrusive fougère notes made themselves known as I stood at the photocopier – at first I was wondering what they reminded me of (a little like the original Colors by Benetton which I quite liked in the eighties), but then the final accord of this perfume put me also in mind of the original Calvin by Calvin Klein, his first fragrance for men and one that got lost, completely, in the megahits that followed in the mid-eighties to early nineties period,like Obsession, Eternity, Escape, and CK One, Calvin is far less of a ‘production’ than those conceptually curated blockbusters – (I can’t even find an old advert for it online, when we know that the ‘controversial’ Marky Mark and Kate Moss ads were half the reason the perfumes became so popular in the first place). No, Calvin is subdued – almost too much so, a four by four tarragon/patchouli fougere in the manner of Azzaro, but with the barb taken out to make it almost powdery in its chamomile traced approachability. You still get the classic masculine contours, but also a soft congeniality. Probably I could wear both (I have a miniature bottle of the Calvin); this and the Bergamote, which I am thinking of actually getting, in small quantities, on certain days when I just want to be anchored in reality, and not let my mind stray too far from its confinements.