I'm not going to embarrass myself by telling you how many fragrances I have, but there are enough that in order to get to the ones in the back of the cabinet I need to take everything out and rearrange. Meticulously. And increasingly, this is no easy task. I think of it like a Rubik's Cube. Many get rotated. I get sick of them for a while, or discover something I'd forgotten. I bring one forward like a stepchild I've neglected out of unfair bias. There are a few, only a few, that remain front and center, where I can get at them regardless of whim or weariness. Exclamation is one of them.
I have no idea why I like this stuff as much as I do. It's not a complex scent. It isn't breaking any new ground. It's simply a gorgeous boost of happy, which is why, on this dreary, muddled Monday morning I want to talk about it. The stuff cuts through the drizzle with the precision of a scalpel on skin. It has a distinct buoyancy to it that I'm hard pressed to find anywhere else. The smell lifts me a little. I think of it primarily as peachy osmanthus and rose with minimal foody accents (cinnamon, vanilla, almond). Nothing new there, but give three cooks the same ingredients and you get three entirely different meals, and if one of those cooks is Sophia Grojsman, Exclamation's creator, at least one of those meals has the very real potential to rise above and beyond its ingredients to far more than the literal sum of its parts.
For many women, this is a nostalgic scent, more sweet than sophisticated. I don't remember Exclamation from my high school years, so there's no such sentimentality for me. How anyone smelled the stuff with a wall of Poison, Paris, and Giorgio in the way is something which would have to be explained to me with scientific lucidity. Setting that aside, I'm not sure I've smelled anything by Grojsman which could be realistically assessed as anything approaching quaint. Exclamation is rich and fairly heady. I continue to think of Grojsman as a major sensualist, and Exclamation does nothing to contradict that evaluation. There are others working somewhere in this vein, with a corresponding richness of sensory detail which could probably be described as super saturation--Francis Kurkdjian and Maurice Roucel, to name just a few--and for a while I wasn't sure what exactly distinguishes Grojsman from them. I'm still not sure, but Renoir comes to mind as a useful means of comparison.
Those two perfumers are full bodied, but Grojsman produces something close to the kind of figures Renoir painted, where the flesh is rendered with a weirdly palpable succulence, and the colors used are more like texture than hue. In some ways it's hard to approach Exclamation as an expression of sensuality, but I suspect most of that is context. Put it in a different bottle, one that isn't a silly if adorable little piece of punctuation, a play on shape and words, but more formal, something by Baccarat maybe, and place the bottle in a different environment, a bit farther away from Shania Starlight and Bratz berry lipgloss, change the name to I don't know....Rapture,maybe...and you're apt to see Exclamation in a very different way.
There's a powdery disposition to Exclamation that isn't baby talcum and comes much closer to the wonderful cakey make-up of Malle's Lipstick Rose. The two have a lot in common. I love Lipstick Rose but probably prefer Exclamation. Lipstick Rose is a much vampier shade of lipstick, a notch or two more garish. Exclamation has a softness to it. Grojsman's work is often faulted for a certain synthetic or chemical quality somewhere in the top notes. You would expect to find that in something as cheaply made and sold as Exclamation. Instead, it's one of her most natural smelling efforts. You can find the notes on Fragrantica but I'll list them here, because I looked for them a long time wondering what they might be. Peach, apricot, bergamot, orris root, jasmine, heliotrope, lily-of-the-valley, rose, vanilla, cinnamon, sandalwood, amber, musk and cedar. Like much of Grojsman's work the fragrance is mostly linear. It does soften considerably into the dry down, where the base notes are a little more pronounced. It last better than most perfumes ten times the price.