Category Archives: Oceanic

‘Those are pearls that were his eyes: nothing of him that doth fade, but doth suffer a sea-change; into something rich and strange………………’ SALARIUM + V from THE PERFUME LIBRARY by LUSH (2019) + UNDA MARIS from the Extrait De Musique collection by FILIPPO SORCINELLI (2018)

 

 

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Last Saturday I attended the opening of the new Lush megastore in Shinjuku, busiest station in the world; a throng of people darting and threading (to be more exact, gliding in various directions – there is a choreography; people rarely collide with each other here); emerging from stairs of stations, crossing en masse,  meeting and parting and entering and leaving the reefs of unknown buildings – the animation of Saturday; thrilling in some ways, that weekend rush,and yet you do have to be in the right state of mind for it – the sheer numbers of people filling up every available space, slipping and pulling you along.

 

 

 

 

It seemed to me as if half of the people on the streets were crowded into the four story brand new Lush store, opening that morning, in which an extraordinarily potent olfactory cacophony of bath bombs and soaps, perfumes, body sprays, cosmetics  (including a beautifully innovative sushi conveyor belt going round selling freshly made concoctions for face and body) gelled and glowed with neon signage, a hip, cosmopolitan crowd, congratulatory flower bouquets, and a range of fragrances currently exclusive to this retail space  (they are stocked as well at the flagship store in Liverpool, which will be selling my book at the Fragrance Library, with Shinjuku also hopefully to follow).

 

 

 

 

 

 

My companion for the morning was Catherine, a perfume lover like no other (this woman truly lives for perfume – I have never known anyone else quite comparable – she lives and breathes the stuff). We met at the station – or rather I retrieved her from one of the labyrinthine exits – so easy to get untethered and lost in this warren, which can be disorientating if you don’t have your wits about you or get pushed, led along in the wrong direction – and we busily, once doing the tour of the place – an entire floor seemingly devoted to bath bombs and soap; another for sundries, intriguing books and esoteric vinyl (Lush even has its own record label), oceans of face products and shampoos, became firmly ensconced on the perfume floor, where, alongside familiar Lush/Gorilla Perfumes classics such as Lust, Vanillary, Breath Of God, Imogen Rose, and Cardamom Coffee (one of Duncan’s signature perfumes), as well as many, many others – I couldn’t help picking up the Old Delhi station perfume oil, all cinnamon, clove and jasmine, from this section; Catherine fell for the hardcore indole jasmine blast that is Lust  – we found ourselves eventually more intrigued by the Perfume Library and its enticing range of perfumes from past and reworked to edgily brand new – that which perused, and smelled ad nauseam on each other, and on ourselves, and on paper strips until we were through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are shuddery vibrations to many of the more extreme Lush perfumes; like poisonous odorous flowers that forbid you to be touched. This comes, I think, both from the high percentage of natural essential oils that pervade the blends and give them a sense, almost, of being living entities rather than merely fragrance compositions, but also from perfumer Simon Constantine’s firmly idiosyncratic, almost waywardly fierce approach to making perfumes; perfumes with provocative names and sometimes quasi barbaric aromatic intensity that usually deliver on their promise. Some of the more virulently masculine scents in the range such as Smuggler’s Soul and Lord Of Goathorn are commanding and potentially quite erotically intoxicating on the right individual (but that individual quite obviously isn’t me – I can’t do burnt, smoky, or perfumes that remind me of woodcutters or Nicolas Cage chasing forest demons in the recent horror classic, ‘Mandy’). Still, they demand attention; they do feel alive. And much as I loved the name, Sweet Grandma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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could only remind me of the Mother at the end of Pyscho – both Catherine and I exclaimed aloud how it smelled just utterly like mothballs; truly Gothic and ancient – naphthalene, when someone has taken out their winter clothes from storage and sits next to you on the bus :a becoated sarcophagus facing forward; hollow skull; eyesocketless; with a stroked and carefully brushed bun of  natty, flaxen hair.  Not having tried this one on skin  – which apparently has notes of orange blossom and rosewood as main features – I can’t comment on its progression or structuring, but I will certainly be going back to the store when it has quietened down a notch as I think it is one of the most singularly strange perfumes I have ever encountered in my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The extensive wares in the Perfume Library vary in price, from standard niche cost up to the levels of Tom Ford and the like; Secret Garden, an intensely animalic and earthy perfume composed of osmanthus absolute, myrrh and immortelle was the most expensive of the line at 36,000 yen, while others (Cocktail, Assassin Remix, Two More Hearts) fell in between. Catherine was rather drawn to Death And Decay, which I have reviewed before – a light and slightly perturbing evanescence of lilies and powder, but though we both quite liked the violet cassie party girl vibe of Tuca Tuca, and the spriteliness of Pansy, it was V – a quite mesmerisingly velveteen violet perfume that hovers on the skin in a way I have never experienced before  (for me it was like a retreat from everything in the later afternoon light of lace curtains; sun still emitting warmth onto your cotton sheets but not enough to give you the sense of a complete and utter escape from everyday responsibility, just you and the sense of your body in the bed, and the soft bedclothes, and the violets  – downy, vanillic as a retort to the bitter green oddness of the top accord, which I find difficult, but not enough to prevent us from finding this perfume too singular to ignore – we both got a bottle); a mix of Ghanian ylang ylang, cedar wood, cinnamon, clove, and plush, plush violet flowers with the tang of the greenest violet leaf up top, V is a re-release of one of Lush’s first perfumes from 1995 especially for this event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As is Salarium, a reorchestration of another original Lush perfume (though under a different brand name at the time) from 1989 that for some reason I find engrossing and addictive in its sheer saltiness and sexual intensity; although composed of oudh, neroli, oakmoss, and rose, you would swear instead that this is an eighties fougere along the lines of Drakkar Noir, with a dash of Kenzo Pour Homme ; like a cop from Miami Vice who has been brought back from the dead with mouth to mouth resuscitation after falling into the bay …..a scent that lashes and douses you in sea spray, leaving you strangely suspended. As usual, there is something that ambivalently affects me at the chest level in the initial spray, but the magnetism of the perfume is undeniable. I had to have it – and Duncan wore it the next day, leaving rock pools of planed and saline mistscapes in each room that he had been in, he leaving, again for Tokyo, a couple of hours before me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, the train journey to Shinjuku. This time to film a scene for his new film, he with vast and heavy prop-filled suitcase in hand, me bringing up the rear later (the night before we had gone to a Thai karaoke bar in Yokohama to meet Michael, where an entire kickboxing team and their entourage had descended; fascinating, but as I enjoyed crooning Falling, from Twin Peaks, and Do you Really Want To Hurt Me? with a stranger, I was too tired; burnt out, actually; ; work has got progressively better as the term has gone on; more involved, but also more straining on my central nervous system; all the performing). It decentralises me, and the next day I woke up feeling subdued; you might even say subterraneaneousor at the very least just encased in my own self: : : needing solitude and space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Odd though it may have been, given the gloomy and rainy weather outside, the humidity oppressive through thick clouds, contrasted with the glassy ice gleam of air-conditioned air on the trains – I could feel it, from mouth down to my ventricles, that unnatural way of breathing, like snorkelling, which I could never do (always drowning in salt water immediately; I prefer to just dive down deep as far as I can with my natural lungs before returning to surface); the contradiction of moisture and dryness in the atmosphere complemented by my own choice of fragrance that day as I dreamed alone back up to Shinjuku, that strange hub of government, finance, pleasure, crime, and irrepressible energy; Unda Maris by Filippo Sorcinelli.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While it might be easy to mock such a self proclaimed aesthete and fashionista synaesthesiast such as this Italian renaissance man – organist, perfumer to the pope, artist – I do think that the perfumes from his extensive ranges – Unum, Nebbia, speak for themselves. They are refined; spectral, elegant. They let you dream. The Extraits De Musique, whose bottles are shaped precisely like organ stops, and whose fragrances are based on one particular sound from the church organ – are soft and inspired, variations on benzoin and frankincense and all other kinds of churchly resins just in different proportions to fit the musical note in question – are all very wearable, if not very affordable; in reflective mood I could happily wear several.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike Nebbia Spessa, another marine fragrance from this perfumer, which is an almost sensurround asphyxiation under water, the concept behind the fragrance exactly this – the terror, and awe, of the ocean – Unda Maris is a far more ethereal, gentle, and unearthly experience. Like being bathed in the sound of the organ  – I could say also the celestial chorus of Neptune, easily my favourite part of Holst’s Planet Suite, a piece I would listen to as a child at maximum capacity and be awed, subsumed, abducted by sea people (though that might be taking it too far);, nevertheless, the experience of wearing the perfume definitely bathed me in hush ; as sense of going under. If most perfume is a plus sign, a yang rush, then this is a benevolently minus yin submergence of benzoin and angelic frankincense with a photorealistic vision of a bay; not just the waves but the air and the clouds as well; like being transported to a different physical and mental reality; when D tried this on once I was almost derouted mentally as I kept actually feeling as though I really were on an isolated beach, with no sunshine; too saline and rock-beaten to cast off as merely an afternoon fragrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the almost empty train car of the new Keio line, I found that the perfume, which I had applied quite a lot of (it is an extrait) put me in a state of peculiar tranquillity. In many ways not me – I do like marine fragrances sometimes, but they are more what you might call my perfumes for specialist occasions – this nevertheless is a scent I would consider buying as it seems to bestow a unique experience on me; the train carriage felt like an aquarium, I felt defleshed and cool, as if I were in some underwater kingdom, accessing caverns – my rib cages as coral – drifting slowly down the space inside, and look out at fishes and the undulations of anemones; the fruited notes at the centre of the perfume lifting the sea smells, while beneath, incense and almost dirty balsams played like body smell of the organist’s fingers on the keys; Debussy’s La Cathedrale Engloutie, or The Sunken Cathedral, which I also once played for a piano diploma almost thirty years ago to this day in a huge church hall under a crucifix; the deep resonance of the drenched, submersed chords as the drowned building continues, periodically,  to emanate its ghostly music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The next day, I woke up to a bad cold; throat and ear infection, dizzy, and have been off work all week, in bed ( I cannot teach when not able to properly hear or speak). Recovering my energy, which all but disappeared after the franticness of the teaching week and overstimulated creative and sensorial shenanigans of the weekend, I have realized that this is something I need to curb, as I need to be more respectful to the limits of my sensitivity and realise that our natural inclinations towards hedonism require temperance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I feel as if I am bleeding out in all directions, and feel unanchored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though unwell, however ( I am recovering today, the rest has done me good, my chest is clearing, and I can taste and smell again – at first I had pure anosmia, a further ‘cowering into self’…..no longer fully sentient, the world around you becomes ever smaller and less important); a little guilty; but not really –  – – – – – – this is the first time in a long while that I have felt fully relaxed; even serene. Cloistered at home. But silent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Comments

Filed under Incense, Oceanic, Violet

ROSE ATLANTIC by D. S & DURGA (2016)

 

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When you live in the perfumed world I do, it can come as a sudden jolt to the senses to smell something so patently synthesized to smell ozonic, oceanic: searingly ultra-modern and fresh.

 

Rose Atlantic, a name that piques my aesthetics, is just that: roses awash in sea spray and sunlight. Lunging, zesting rose notes, doused in citrus provide an enlivening beginning, while underneath, a perturbing array of notes ( ‘salt spray rose accord’, ‘dune grass’, muscone and ‘salt grass’) provide the plausibly oceanographic backdrop.

 

Clean, oblivious  (an obvious paen to the Great Outdoors and the yachting life), this brisk, well-made perfume is not something I could ever wear myself – it made me feel like an alien when I had it on my skin, reptilian, cold, moist – but I can definitely imagine quite pleasurably encountering it on some hale, North American optimist – all perfect white teeth and smiling clean new sports clothes – as he or she hits the water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Comments

Filed under Flowers, Oceanic, Ozone

SHE SELLS SEA SHELLS…… DUNE by CHRISTIAN DIOR ( 1991)

 

 

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Apricot dunes; the glow from a studio-lit, ochre trompe l’oeil sunset; seagulls on the soundtrack; the glistening ‘ocean’ beyond. A seasoned French actress, distractedly reaches down into the pillowing sands and scrutinizes, with her smooth cream hands, carefully placed pebbles, starfish and seaweed.

 

 

 

On the beach, pensive, to a backdrop of golden, solar rays…

 

 

 

 

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It is probably quite hard for the perfume youth of today to imagine how exciting – and rare an occurrence – it once was when one of the great ‘houses’ – Guerlain, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Givenchy, Christian Dior – released a new scent. They were like monuments, fortresses, designed to be aesthetically pleasing but also infallible, made to last. Perfumes that, naturally, were not designed for everyone, but once, if they did catch your senses and made you hers, would then become your perfume, to buy again and again, your signature: huge money-making engines for their parent companies, who relied desperately on these gleaming olfactory colossi to line their coffers for couture.

 

 

 

Rather than the constant floods and inundations of scent that we are treated/subjected to now, ever intrigued but over and underwhelmed, we were almost starved of new perfume back in those days. What you saw was all there was, and if you were bored by what you were smelling you just had to wait. A long time. Many years would pass between the launch of one major scent and the next, and to budding young perfume obsessives, always on the look out for new perfume adverts in fashion magazines like Vogue, the arrival of a long gestated new perfume always felt like a real, magnificent, event.

 

 

 

The concept for Dune had apparently already been thought out and worked on behind the scenes at Dior back in the 1980’s, but it was presciently decided that the next project, the purple hearted, bullet shocker Poison, was more scandalously fitting to the Joan Collins times (and their instincts were most certainly right in that regard), with the result that the project was somewhat put on a back burner for a while until the radical explosion of all things ‘natural’, pared down, marine and ozonic occurred in the following decade, when Dune then suddenly emerged as if out of nowhere: a heavily, but immaculately, made-up Venus, transpiring from the foaming waves of luxeful Perfumia to claim her crown.

 

 

 

 

At the time, I myself was a second year university student, back home for the summer, working, believe it or not, on a golf course. Although I am the last person on earth to play golf (those pastel colours; checked trousers, all that ‘gear’…….) it was, in many ways, the ideal job for me at the time: entirely solitary, surrounded by trees and nature in my wooden hut, just listening to music, looking at the sky, and finally having definitively enough time to properly read the long novels I had always wanted to read as the hours of green and blue stretched on before me ( I have great memories of losing myself entirely for days on end in great big nineteenth century tomes such as Anna Karenina). There, with the kettle boiling quietly, the birds in the trees, the occasional customers coming for a round of mini golf – I merely had to collect the money and hand out the tickets, and then take the flags down at the end of the day – passing the summer quite nicely, saving enough money to set myself up in Rome that November: I was immersed in aloneness, literature, music and perfume, and, more importantly, the great and exhilarating unknowingness of an upcoming Italian future.

 

 

 

 

Dune was released during that summer. It was a period in which samples were given out more freely at the department stores, and, as usual, I managed to get a lot of them, vials and vials of the scent which I would try on my hand while sitting outside, or even soak the cassette liner notes of the tapes that I had in the hut with their contents, to make the scent last longer, to be opened and experienced at will, so that in this way Dune formed an almost permanent scented backdrop to that carefree period and is seared in my memory as such (maybe that’s why my Prokofiev Violin Concertos I+II tape went all funny – the very reels of music themselves were drenched in sea broom and soft burnished powder of mollusc).

 

 

 

 

Although I was never entirely sure if I actually liked this scent – and certainly never wore it beyond the confines of my golf cabin – despite the fact that there was something too full, opulent and strangely off-putting about it, I knew that I was extremely fascinated by it: that weird combination of ambery, salty warmth, and floral, quite definitely duney seaness that all felt so peculiar and uneasy, yet new; compelling. It had a certain thrall. I had simply never smelled anything like it before.

 

 

 

 

Yes, this rather groundbreaking perfume, which felt, almost, as if it had come from another planet, had been proudly announced by Mothership Dior to be the very first ever‘floriental oceanic’, a very unusual concept at the time, when anything that reeked of the sea simply didn’t seem suitable, somehow, for a fragrance. It was a forceful, clinging floral amber scent with top notes of sea broom and lichen, peony and lily, immersed in a smooth marine compound, edged with rich and salty flowers, benzoin, ambers, and musks. Desperately original and popular when released, I later soon got sick of smelling it in Rome, where, together with the ultra-swimmingly sweet Trésor, it blotted the air all around it with its comeliness, the women of Rome taking it to their commendable, tailored bosoms (these women were always just so deeply perfumed ; profumatissime) with an overly great abundance of maquillaged enthusiasm.

 

 

 

To me, Dune always felt self-satisfied and overplenished somehow, more a performance than a perfume, with several acts, all perfectly balanced (the original formula was extremely complex): warm, emboldening and luminescent, but still, always that unsettling contrast between those sandy, decaying seashells whitening in the sun, and the more demure and feminine flowers and balsamics lurking beneath, an aesthetic tension which, when all is said and done, makes Dune the enduring creation that it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In a old and crowded box, dusty and thrown in together like trash, I recently retrieved a vintage parfum of Dune – the one you see in the picture – for a dollar at a fleamarket as you know I always do, and for that price I thought; well, why not. I was quite intrigued to smell this perfume again, to be able to reappraise its flaws, and its charms. And besides, I had never smelled it in extrait.

 

 

 

As you might expect, the current formula still on sale worldwide at Christian Dior counters is said to be a rather unsatisfying reformulation of the original perfume that was released, which was bolder; more detailed; a more extreme and delicate arc between the marine notes, the florals, and the sandalwoody ambers (these new versions of the Diors seem more like snapshots, somehow). This little bottle I got in Tokyo, a considerable amount of which proceeded to spill all over me when I eventually got the stopper off coming home on the train, was unboxed, the label worn off as well, but the perfume inside, dense and full, rich,was still fresh, intense, and rather pleasing. This smell is at once entirely familiar to me: stamped in my brain, nostalgic, comforting, even, yet still retains that inherent strangeness that the original formula always had and that made it distinctive: that insistent, almost sickly amber that also inhabits the base of Cartier Must parfum (a scent I adore); the emotional component coming I suppose from that sense, beyond the immediate, concentrated perfume essences in the heart of the perfume, of an enlivened, agoraphobic dream vista; a beach stretching off for miles and miles, and miles and miles, into the distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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27 Comments

Filed under amber floral musks, Oceanic, operatic

PROBABLY THE MOST POPULAR PERFUME OF ALL TIME IN JAPAN……. “THE SURF ZOMBIES”: : : : : INSENSE ULTRAMARINE by GIVENCHY : : : : (1994 – present, in annual Japanese remixes)

 

 

 

 

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Ultramarine, perhaps the most popular scent for men – EVER   – in Japan, is in my opinion, an absolute,  bottled oxymoron : a ‘morbid oceanic’, if you like, and surely the weirdest perfume ever to be a megahit (which it undoubtedly still is here, even two decades after its release: an extremely popular choice for the young surfer about town – so much so that if you smell a perfume on a man in this country it is quite likely to be this surprise hit flanker for Givenchy). Though nowhere on the best seller lists in other countries, in Japan it is considered something of a reference perfume, one that everyone knows will help you pull, a scent that is seen as definitively sekk-u-shi (….er…SEXY). To me, though, having been exposed to its ‘charms’ at close range on countless occasions, this cadaverous wave of nautical chemicals just smells like dirt-caked zombies, smiling; riding the morning surf with their rictus grins of joy as that salt comes crashing down on their uncrackable, sun-shining skulls.

 

 

Few perfumes make me react the way this does:  a kind of severe, mesmerizing repulsion where I find myself hypnotised by the seaweed death notes of the base, but find I have to soon move away to less perfumed climes – to some fresh air.

Perhaps it is that very algae that the Japanese love, though – the inexorable pull towards the ocean,  though I have to say there is a certain urgent, compulsive sexuality about the scent: a do or die, fuck-me-on-the-spot quality that must appeal to the rebel and outsider (and remember: only those who are a bit rebellious in this country DO wear perfumes this strong…)

 

 

 

The weirdness in the perfume that I keep referring to comes from a  deep registered, under-seafloor rumbling of acrid tobacco, cedar, cardamom and vetiver; a ‘blue’ accord of half-rotted marine creatures; some imaginary highnoted ‘waterfruits’ (sea cucumber? kelp berries?) and herbaceous, bright and minty citrus top notes – all the clashing, thrashing ultramingling octaves you could ever wish for in a scent.

 

 

 

I’ll give Ultramarine one thing. It is certainly unforgettable.

 

 

 

Yet despite the free-for-all mixes that keep coming out (‘Evening Dream’, ‘Beach Surf’, ‘Ice Cube’, ‘Morning Surf’, ‘Midnight Swim’ and many, many more, even a ‘Pour Elle’) I would say  that ultimately this one is only for the boys. I once did a ‘man to man’ private lesson with a youngish woman with an exsanguinated, grey-tinged pancake complexion who was maladvisedly drenched in Ultramarine.

 

 

It was really quite difficult to concentrate the lesson as I was so affected (and masochistically fascinated) by her scent….

 

 

Never mind the grammar: this was like being locked in a taxidermist’s overnight, or having my head thrust and held in an undertaker’s coat, cold; vicious; come directly from the formaldehydic, graveyard rain.

18 Comments

Filed under Flowers, Oceanic

SHOCK WAVES: : KENZO POUR HOMME (I99I) + + TIRRENICO by PROFUMI DEL FORTE (2008)

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Some perfumes arrive and totally change the air.

Kenzo Pour Homme was such a scent: iconoclastic, groundbreaking, with its olfactory shock of the new. Distorting the air in Rome, where I was living at the time, like a giant, salty, turtle-shaped watermelon: head-turning, inescapable (so many of the young Romani seeming having cottoned onto it all at once at their local profumeria ); so at odds with the classical surroundings that I walked among at night and where I kept on smelling this…..smell.

Drifting, unexpectedly, about the city.

Surfing the midnight air.

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People HATED it – my flat-mate referred to it as ‘that….. sea-piss’; my mother loathed it  (“What IS that FOUL smell?!!”……..)

It amused me. It intrigued me: I bought a bottle.

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Though Aramis New West had been the first scent to introduce the aquatic note of calone three years prior to this perfume’s release, Kenzo was the first to do it to such a fearless extreme as to make it essential: almost offensive in its oceanic, salted weirdness, yet so utterly of the moment and futuristic that it felt addictive. Unfortunately, in recent times, as is so often the case, the formula seems to have been tempered with over the years to make it more conformist (in that ubiquitous sea of dull aquatics) – watered down, its stingray zest somehow blunted –  yet to me it still remains one of the best of this type and remains quite popular, especially in France. It is a shame, however, that it no longer has quite the eye-opening surprise it once had. Which was this:

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a revivifying sea spray of salty green marine notes; an oceanic top note like the crash of waves (when you get dragged under helplessly joyfully swirling dragged up, sand and seaweed and splinters of sea shells as the sun tilts erratically through the refracted gluts in the surface and the solar blue peers through…) ….that delicious, electrolyte blue of the sea. An iodine rush that had never been done before in perfumery and that was startling.

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What it didn’t do next was also praiseworthy.

What it didn’t do was dry down to a gay-club sport cliché, like the dreadfully efficient Acqua di Giò (Armani), or the now standard jeune homme progression of calone, citrus, ‘spice’, and ‘woods’ a la Miyake that could bore a man to tears as it fills the international airports like a slow, deathly tsunami, instead being strange, interesting, confounding, and exciting.

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Kenzo’s heart is pleasing.

The top, filtered through with bergamot, some green notes, geranium, and a strange dose of anisic fennel, has an aqueous freshness, but it is undercut beautifully with quite prominent spice – particularly nutmeg and clove – on a musty, cool seabed of vetiver, sandalwood, light musks, and patchouli. And while I was always slaking more for the top notes, I also remember a beautiful walk in the Tuscan countryside Helen and I took that summer in Italy, Kenzo under our constant analyses under the burning sun (we really had smelled nothing like it, and we had smelled a lot of perfumes together over the years….) Helen particularly transfixed, I remember, by the closing patchouli/aromatic accord that I think set the stage for my later attraction to dry patchouli chypres along the lines of Parure, Aromatics Elixir, and Eau du Soir. Such an imprint lies at the sea-bed of Kenzo – you might even call it a chypre oceanic – because while refreshing and beach-bound, it also verges on mystery.

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The only other scent I have come across of similar bearing to Kenzo Pour Homme is perhaps Profumi Del Forte’s Tirrenico (2008), which I discovered a couple of summers ago while staying in Berlin. This beautifully constructed composition has the sea-green sodium feel of Kenzo but has a more torrid, even livid aspect (fennel again, plus dried fruits, elemi, and a very intense basil over ozone), that I found mesmerizing, but also almost depressing in its algae-filled darkness. Where with Kenzo the play-drowning and underwater torpedo-ing feel like fun, with Tirrenico I felt as if I might never actually re-surface. I have toyed with the idea of buying a bottle of this (supremely expensive) scent: but the company’s  tiaré-banana-noix de coco fantasy Apuana Vittoria (delectable!) has first priority, if I ever raise the cash..

For the time being Kenzo remains my only sea perfume. It is unique, and brings back wonderful sun and water-filled memories of sun-christened skin. Only to be worn in summer, the the breezy, saline atmosphere it creates is indispensable.

As the Japanese summer heats up and the coast begins to beckon, I will be taking my bottles out of seasonal rest-mode very soon.

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Filed under Masculines, Oceanic, Perfume Reviews