Recently as I was reading Self-Styled Siren’s fantastic post about Ten Movies Siren Should Love But Does Not, I got to thinking about fragrances that by all accounts should be among my favorites yet fail to move me. These are not the acrylic florals, the vulgar lollipops or the boring copycats. Most of the fragrances on my list are nicely done and distinctive enough to be memorable. For different reasons, they just do not appeal to me.
Serge Lutens Rahat Loukoum
I will not exaggerate if I say that Rahat Loukoum is my least favorite out of the entire collection. I would rather wear L’Eau than this blend of musk, heliotropine and vanilla. A high quality composition that smells like a cheap Duane Reade candle.
Jean Patou 1000
1000 is rich and opulent, but it is also heavy and opaque. As much as I love classical Guerlain and Chanel fragrances with all of their retro facets, 1000 strikes me as dated.
Cabotine is a fragrance legend, and perhaps, this is the very reason I do not like it—I blame it for the current flood of squeaky clean florals that it engendered.
Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena calls it the best gardenia composition, bright and joyful. I have tried it in the EDT and in the parfum, but I cannot get away from the blandness of its floral accord. If you are a fan, please let me know why you love it. I feel that I am missing something.
The fragrance equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction—it clears everything in its path. Remarkable composition from the technical standpoint, but to be around it is a suffocating experience.
I suspect that Chandler Burr’s excellent article on the creation of Jardin Sur le Nil is the reason why I tried to love it as much as I did. I wear it from time to time in hot weather, but recently I have come to realize that I just do not find it that compelling. A fresh citrus-floral composition with a soft woody backdrop. Pleasant, but nothing earth shattering.
Tom Ford Jasmine Musk
On paper, Jasmine Musk is the fragrance made for me, because I love the combination of indolic jasmine and musk notes. They create a fascinating synergy, alternating between the leather darkness of animalic notes present in white florals and the sweet softness of modern musks. However, Tom Ford’s Jasmine Musk is too bland and limpid to be exciting.
Thierry Mugler Alien
Another fragrance that contains all elements I should love: jasmine, orange blossom, woody musks and perfumer Dominique Ropion. On my skin, it is a disaster of decaying flowers and screechy amber.
Guerlain L’Instant de Guerlain
I much prefer the parfum concentration to all others, but if I have to pick a recent Guerlain launch to wear, I would rather go for Insolence. L’Instant feels as heavy as a crystal paper weight, with the richness of its vanilla and musk obscuring the finer nuances of magnolia flower and orange blossom.
Diptyque L’Ombre Dans L’Eau
L’Ombre Dans L’Eau is an interesting green composition, with a bold accent of verdant black currant buds and leafy notes. I like it enough to smell it in candle form, but as a personal fragrance, the green sharpness gets both monotonous and jarring as time goes on.
Photography by VeraKL