Friday, August 15, 2008

Staying Power: Fragrances That Last

Ever notice that the perfumes you spend the most money on often seem to be the least likely to persist on your skin, while the cheapos might outlast cockroaches in the event of a nuclear war? For the past several days, we at I Smell Therefore I Am have been spritzing Habanita, the weird, tarry vetiver of which has lingered so tenaciously that it got me reflecting on other equally virulent perfumes. What follows is a highly subjective list based on my own personal preferences and experiences (or lack thereof) in smell:

Estee Lauder Alliage

I lump this into the galbanum camp. Not every fragrance built around this note possesses tenacity (Chanel No. 19, anyone?) but many do. Galbanum can give a perfume quite a lot of kick; witness Sud Est by Romeo Gigli, Chamade, Diesel (the original), Givenchy Insense, Ralph Lauren's Safari, Trussardi Donna, and S.T. Dupont. All of these wear most of the day on my skin. Of the group, Aliage has the most longevity. It's a totally unlikely fragrance in many ways--so wrong it's right. It goes so far over the line that the line isn't an issue anymore.


Anything by Sophia Grojsman, really. Even Diamonds and Rubies by Elizabeth Taylor, and 360 Degrees for Perry Ellis. Even Coty Exclamation, which puts other, more expensive rose scents to shame. Grojsman's scents have a linear purity to them. They're dense, with a lot going on, but from beginning to end they remain pretty consistent. They're Russian novels, as opposed to beach reads. They have a certain reputation for excess which is fueled by their full bodied construction and near astral projection. But I get tired of all the caveats involved in the appreciation of Spellbound and Paris and Calyx and all the rest of Grojsman's oeuvre. Like Maurice Roucel (see below) she's a brilliant nose, with a baroque sensibility which will inevitably go in and out of fashion. Her perfumes, however, go the distance.


And Iris Silver Mist, and Broadway Nite, and Gucci Envy (a member of the galbanum crew), Lolita Lempicka "L", 24 Faubourg, Insolence, Lalique pour Homme, and Missoni. The closest to Roucel in style is Grosjman. Both create fragrances which, whether gourmand or not, have the aromatic headiness of gourmet food, heavy on the butter and cream. This is one of the things which makes Roucel such a brilliant choice for ushering the Guerlain name into the near future. Like their classics, Roucel's compositions are practically edible, with a cake-like texture you can almost sink your teeth into. That said, Roucel isn't to everyone's taste. Personally, I find his perfumes so addictive and decadent that they literally set my teeth on edge.


Many of the old school leathers hang on for dear life. Cuir de Russie, Knize Ten, Rien by Etat Libre d'Orange, Hermes Bel Ami, and Tabac Blond, among them. They mix a petroleum noxiousness with a sweet, sometimes floral counterpoint. Knize Ten and Rien are a little more hard core. Certainly Yatagan. They also last the longest of the above on me.

Body Kouros

And most of Annick Menardo's body of work. Menardo's hallmark is a vanilla dry down, reflecting a penchant for the elaborately edible she shares with Roucel and Grojsman, whether it be the anisic note in Lolita au Masculin or the almond paste of Hypnotic Poison. Vanilla is certainly tasty, but by the time Menardo's constructions have reached their base notes, they've moved in various directions, more an artful tour of the pantry than a sit-down meal. Body Kouros is her strongest to me.

1 comment:

Tania said...

Dior Addict.
It won't go away, and I hate it!

Estee Lauder Spellbound.
I actually like this one, but it's definitely surrounded by that yellow crime-scene tape, in my mind. Proceed with caution!