Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kenzo Jungle L'Elephant: Herd Mentality

You're really in for a treat with Kenzo L'Elephant, if prunes and clove make your socks roll up and down. You might just need garters to avoid motion sickness. Sure, the pyramid lists far less pungent ingredients, like mango, heliotrope, and mandarin, but we're talking clove here, and prunes, so anything lighter registers subliminally at best.

Also in the mix: ylang ylang, cardamom, cumin, patchouli, amber, and cashmere.

A friend who went through menopause once told me that her hot flashes were like walking around in a wool unitard. Kenzo L'Elephant is a wool unitard of a fragrance. There's no zipper on it, so you better settle in for the long haul.

Nothing light and airy about this thing. Which makes perfect sense of the commercial, an otherwise odd little piece of cinema. Something about a stampede of thundering elephants covered in Goldfinger paint resonates with the experience of the fragrance, however bizarrely incongruous the westernized Asian model seems, walking as serenely through this setting as a bored valley girl wandering down Melrose.

Me, I love it. I have a soft spot for the fragrance that chokes, the aroma which stifles. It's my notion of heady. I don't really feel I'm feeling it unless the lights are dimming and I know I'm about to pass out. I don't feel like I'm reaching anyone if my fragrance has no spread. I suppose I'm one of those people who wears fragrance at least in part to communicate. L'Elephant is a shrieker. It says: "Hey, I'm stinking over here!"

I like it strong and emphatic. L'Elephant stocks up on the exclamation points. I like what I'm saying (i.e wearing) to be explicitly conveyed. Smother me in Youth Dew, please. Suffocate me with Poison. If my fragrance is telling a story I want that story to have the epic sweep of a Russian novel with the heft of a phone book and a series of characters who connect and intersect in a complicated cross-hatching of intrigues and sub-plots.

L'Elephant falls into a category which includes Aziyade by Parfum d'Empire and Shiseido's Feminite du Bois. All three are characterized by a dried prune note which is practically tactile. L'Elephant has a candied wood aspect I also recognize from Dolce Vita, and could have been created by the same perfumer. But the warm fuzziness of L'Elephant is uniquely its own. I've not seen it or felt it in any other fragrance. It takes a lot of wool to knit a four-legged unitard for an elephant, and I'm appreciative that someone spent the time and effort required.

I've read that some find this a challenge in "tight quarters". I personally don't mind clearing out a room once in a while. I've seen L'Elephant described as an oriental spicy, which I do get, and as a spicy floral, which is...a stretch. It's a fairly masculine fragrance as far as alleged feminines go. I do get floral by way of the ylang ylang, the fuzzy slash gummy aspects of which sit very nicely with the prune and clove. Ylang ylang is really the perfect floral for L'Elephant, mainly because it doesn't register as one. The ylang ylang in this reminds me a bit of another favorite ylang carrier of mine, Histoire d'Amour by Aubussin.

The longevity and projection are off the charts. L'Elephant was created in 1996. It seems like it would have to have been reformulated since then, but I never smelled the original. I did smell original Jungle Tiger, which smells similar to my L'Elephant, so maybe nothing much has changed.


Carol said...

Love this stuff!! I was oddly fortunate that a few of the first coupla fragrances I tried a year ago were ones I went ga-ga for - this was one of them!

Angela Cox said...

Due to my middle-aged spread and menopause can that Elephant let me have the pattern ? I think I know a daughter who would love this . She loves to smell like she fell into the spice rack. In fact Jacomo no 8 arrived at my house today . At first it smelt like cardamon and baby sick . After it had settled it was a delicious pudding of a perfume . I will try and review it but don't expect too much .

ScentScelf said...

Gadzooks, by the time you got to the Russian novel, I was thinking I'd better stash away the decant I'd been afraid of trying. 'Cause I've just been through a round of "meh" and confusion, and right now, I'm nothing but a simple sort in search of happiness.

And then you brought up Aziyade and Feminite du Bois. Two which I also love. Though I am not, in general, a fan of being smothered.

But I am not too proud to wear long underwear, which maybe hints toward a tolerance for a wool unitard, despite my protestations?

Anyway, ppphbbbbt, once again, joke's on me. I'm back to knowing I have to try it. With no clue whatsoever how I'm going to react.

When I do dare face the Elephant, I'll try to let the ghosts of "tactile" but not "suffocation" haunt my memory. ;)

Brian said...

Cardamom and baby sick! Eegads.

Brian said...

How long have you had Elephant and not tried it, Scent? I love how we have decants lying around we haven't tried! Whatta bounty. I've always like Elephant. It's so plush and rich and cozy. And strong. That too. So it's cozy like the A-Team.

Elisa said...

I am often in a "Hey, I'm stinking over here!" state of mind! I never think anything's too strong, though if it's not, I generally spray until it is. (OK, not really, but I make damn sure I can smell it from outside my shirt and it lasts past lunch.)

This has been on my to-try list for a while. The prune, wood, and strength appeal very much, but I'm a little sensi to clove.

One of the strongest perfumes in my arsenal currently is SSS Vintage Rose. I got some on a turtleneck and even after a month of mellowing out and at least one laundering the thing still radiates.

Tamara*J said...

I loved loved loved how you put that you get down with stinkers! I'm always getting lovingly teased on the blogs I haunt because of my adoration of my "cloaks of scent." The stuff others seem stifled by are mere skin scents to my nose and I am just like you, I love my fragrant cloud to be floating around me at all times and I don't give a hoot and almost WANT people to notice it.Give me heady, strong, rich , dense and I'm in heaven.
I've never tried Elephant, I bet I would dig it.


Nina Zolotow said...

I'm so happy you're posting more frequently. And now I really, really want to try Elephant. Do any of the department stores carry this? Or do I have to actually buy a sample?

Brian said...

Elisa, it's weird. Despite all my bluster I really am so tame when it comes to application. I get meek. Not according to the woman I work with, of course, who can smell me from home when I apply in the morning, judging by her reactions when I walk in. I think the clove is a lot less sharp than in other clove stuff. It's super softened by the ylang and vanilla and amber.

Elisa said...

What! You, meek, really? How many sprays are we talking? I never, ever do just one spray of anything. Always at least one for an arm and one for a clavicle.

You make the Elephant sound awesome.

The word verification is "ladier." As in, ______ is a ladier version of L'Elephant. (Feminite de Bois?)

Brian said...

Yes, it makes no sense. I spray one little modest spray on the back of my hand. Then another frag on the other back of my other hand. Then another on my third hand.

Wait. Hmmm. Maybe I only have two hands.

I never spray my clavicle. It feels very bosomy to do so and sort of confuses me. Nor do I spray my neck, I think because the neck is a real commitment, meaning I would have to decide on one fragrance. Though there are two sides to my neck, they merge, you know? So that too is confusing. Whereas on my hands I can keep the fragrances separate and it's like a mix tape.

And I never decide on one fragrance unless I am somehow distracted in the middle of the selection process. And come up short. Like today, when something happened right after Kenzo Elephant which has kept me busy ever since.

Brian said...

I feel like I was tricked into wearing only one thing today but intend to make up for it when I get home.

Elisa said...

A ha! I only spray my neck/clavicle/sternum/torso when I've definitely decided on one fragrance for the day. When I'm at home playing around I'll do just one spray of any given thing, saving space for further experiments.

Brian said...

See--I never decide. And when I do decide and I got out like that it's with the feeling cheated.

ScentScelf said...

Oh, brother. Can I be honest? I got a most generous swath of decants from a friend. I got overwhelmed by the bounty, and set aside the "scarier" ones for later, figuring I'd work my way in.

Then I moved them from the first place I stashed them to a "more logical" place--which of course means that when I went to retrieve them, I could not find them.

Time passed.

I got a bit frustrated, because among them were a couple of Mugler Mirrors, and I was getting all hot in my imagination for them. But no luck. More time passed.

Quantities of months expressed perhaps in year(s)?

I've known where they were (again) since fall.'s complicated. And simple. Yup. Bounty.

Gadzooks. "A-Team"??? Okay, I don't know what I'm gonna do more than ever. ;)

Brian said...

I wish I had this problem with decants. I'm covetous of a few of the mirrors.

Brian said...

Nina, none of the department stores stock it, that I know of. If you run across discount outlets, they're likely to stock it. The bottle is like something you'd buy at Pier One in the seventies, something carved in ebony.

Katy Josephine said...

I love this post...and this perfume. What you say is true (with my own twist): if you can't bear to 'clear the room' with your perfume once in awhile, perhaps you'd be more comfortable at home.

Anonymous said...

Wow, another great one, B.

You'd think - well, I thought - that I'd hate L'E: all that balsamy stuff. All that family resemblance to Opium and Youth Dew, which I DO hate... and all that Elephant In the Room there-ness, really really big there-ness.

I don't hate it. I have a 2ml sample which I put on with, no kidding, the end of a toothpick. It will probably last me until the end of my life.

I totally defend my right to not clear the room with my stinkin', though.

(Tams, dahling, this stuff is So You. Trust me. I was right about Natori, wasn't I?)

Brian said...

Muse, I am in awe of the fact you apply perfume with a toothpick. Any perfume. It's so disciplined!

tarleisio said...

This sounds like (yet) another Must Try Before I Die...prunes, ylang, amber and clove.

I also belong to the Sock It To 'Em school of fumes. How are you remembered otherwise? ;-)

I wonder if it's an age-related thing. The older we get, the higher our tolerance for wool unitard scents, maybe? In which case - bring it on!

Thank you, Brian. This made my otherwise craptastic morning!

Anonymous said...

It is a treat for me to find this review of Jungle L'Elephant, because I think that it is an interesting fragrance that represents Kenzo's bold aesthetic (before Kenzo Flower did really well and before they started toeing the line like everyone else.) It is one of the first fragrances to really go big on Cashmeran, and that woody-musky note works really well here. I do not think that it has changed all that much. I would take it over half of Lutens line any day.

Have you smelled Kenzo King Kong? While I do not particularly like it, it is another good example of Kenzo's bold vision back in the day.

Brian said...

Tarleisio, you must. It's good stuff. You know, my sense of smell is pretty poor. I should admit that. I think it just has to be. I don't smell as much as others seem to. By that I don't mean that I don't stink. I mean that through my nose I do not smell. I might stink too. The verdict is out.

Brian said...

Ok, Victoria, I was wondering if by Cashmere the pyramid meant chasmeran. Thank you for pointing it out. I thought perhaps that contributes to the fuzzy warmth of Elephant. Can you tell me some other fragrances in which cashmeran plays a big part. Alien, right? I do see a similarity somehow between the two.

I've never smelled King Kong--or even heard of it! What do you think of ca sent beau?

Anonymous said...

Off the top of my head, Alien, Portrait of a Lady, Amarige, Dans Tes Bras, Viktor & Rolf Eau Mega (interesting use of Cashmeran in conjunction with watery, marine notes). Anytime you see something like cashmere woods or cashmere musk, it is Cashmeran! Sometimes marketing people also like to hide it under solar or luminous musk.

I love almost all of the older Kenzo scents. Ca Sent Beau is such a vibrant fragrance, fruity-floral on a very clever mossy base. Whenever people turn up their noses at fruity florals as being less elegant somehow than other types of perfumes, I always bring this one up (and Amazone by Hermes.)

Brian said...

Thank you! I wondered about Portrait of a Lady. Suddenly Eau Mega sounds infinitely more interesting to me. I seem to remember talk of cashmeran featuring in one of the Rosine perfumes too.

Anonymous said...

I love the way you think Brian!! Agreed, there is no point in wearing perfume if it doesn't radiate around me for several feet(minimum), and I am not in danger of being smothered by it. Ergo, I must try Kenzo Jungle L'Elephant! "Hey, I'm stinking over here!": ROFLMAO.

Calamity said...

I am de-lurking to say how happy I am to see someone writing about one of my favorite fragrances! My mom got a bottle of Jungle L'Elephant years ago and I loved it on her. She would spritz herself twice and the yummy spicy scent would last and last... it would linger on her shawls for days! I, being still in high school at the time, preferred the aquatic scents that were all the rage - I went through two bottles of Kenzo L'Eau and of course wore Cool Water as well :)
Recently, I bought another bottle of L'Elephant for my mom, and I think the new version is a bit different (I am not versed in fragrance language to pinpoint how, exactly... maybe less spicy?) I made a small decant for myself, but it doesn't smell as good on me as it does on my mom - my skin amplifies the sweetness, and whereas I don't mind being "suffocated" with spices, too much sweetness is just cloying... By the way, I don't know if it's just my crazy newbie nose, but I found Tom Ford's Black Orchid to smell somewhat similar to L'Elephant...

Unknown said...

I love your blog but never post anything though. I have a mini of L'elephant that I am pretty sure is from the 90s (bought in a lot of minis) and would be happy to send it to you if you would like to have it to compare to the contemporary version.