Can Grownups Wear Candy?

Sounds like a Project Runway challenge, no?   The gourmand scent category has been so successful of recent years that it has branched out into all sorts of unexpected directions.  Those with more sophisticated tastes may deplore it, but then, the perfume conventions of previous decades were just as hard to understand later, e.g. the 70’s musks and the 90’s non-perfume perfumes.

At least candy cannot be confused with BO as in the former case, and you can tell that someone has made an effort to wear perfume in the first place, something you can’t tell in the latter one.

First I suppose that I must make the dreadful confession that to me, one of the world’s greatest perfume formulas has always smelled, like um…candy.

Guerlain’s Apres L’Ondee smells like candy to me.  Candy melting in the pocket of some forsaken French sweetheart standing alone in the rain swept street of a stony French town, without any patisseries or helpful flaneurs in sight.  It is a scene worthy of Maupassant, but the candy melting in her pocket is certainly poisonous. Depending on the relative ratio of anger to regret in this sweetheart’s psyche, either the poison’s for her or the faithless lover.  This is what puts the Guerlain in the guerlainity of the perfume: the poison note.

Being too frivolous a person to wish to stand on cold gray streets and weep, or contemplate much more profound than lunch anyway, I can’t summon the emotional intensity Apres requires of its wearers.  This is not a perfume for those who are overly concerned with Patisseries, so for me ultimately, and although I wore Apres off and on for five years, it was a sham.  The wearer was pretending to hidden romanticism she did not possess and the perfume was slumming.  There’s no other way to describe it.

Granted as the great perfume connoisseur Roja Dove has said, “Perfume can lie for you.” But I don’t think he was expecting it to start telling tall tales. We’re talking Guerlain, not Mark Twain here. More recently I came across Parfums de Nicolai’s Kiss me Tender a perfume which was meant to have more associations with L’Heure Bleue at a guess than Apres, but although its heliotrope tones were appropriately mauve and melancholy, it suited me little better than Apres itself did.  The caveat with Kiss is, that if you have a skin tone which is a little acid, and tends to emphasize sugar notes until they turn into High Fructose Corn Syrup, you are better off leaving this scent alone.  Kiss is definitely one of the sweeter de Nicolais.

This leads me to my only recent success with this genre: Hilde Soliani’s Conaffetto.  The name led to a little scrapping at Luckyscent where one commenter  claimed it meant one thing, and another totally disagreed, but as far as I know, Conaffetto means “with affection” and is probably a little pun on the word confetto, meaning the kind of Jordan Almond candy that Italian  brides give out as wedding favors.  Generally tied up in tulle and ribbons to match the wedding colors; the favors are to die for feminine, and probably totally mystify male wedding  guests, who only want to crack blue jokes at the groom’s expense, and get on to the grappa.  (I have, you see, been to my share of Italian weddings.)

The scent is almost purely candy.  Its opening note is green but only for an instant on my skin, then  a peppery accord sweeps down, like the mother-in-laws who will soon rule the roost in any well run household.  (And PS, are the reason why so many Italian men do not manage to marry. Who wants to be told that you have to iron their son’s underpants? Now Italian demographics are no longer a mystery to you. But I digress.)

Eventually it all fades to a sugary almond rather like the confetti themselves, and one hopes, like the long standing affection in any successful marriage. This is a good-natured scent, much simpler than Apres and even Kiss, but also easier to wear, and a safe bet if you have to be around food.  I always found that poison note in Apres most off putting at meals, rather like inviting a Borgia to dinner.

But then, like Italians, I do not want anything to interfere with my dinners.  Whenever poetry is pitted against pasta, it is safe to say that I will come down on the side of the pasta.  We all have our priorities.

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4 Responses to Can Grownups Wear Candy?

  1. Meg says:

    1) SO RIGHT about Apres l’Ondee! I personally think it smells like Necco Wafers– but only the mournful mauve kind, in keeping with this perfume’s conspicuous mope.

    2) You are killing me with the Hilde Soliani. Every time you’ve written about this line, I want to try it ALL.

    3) You inspired me to write tonight. I linked back to this post in my very first paragraph, as mine is but a variation on your theme. Grazie.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment, which is gracious as always Miss Meg, I’m soaking up a significant part of Isaac’s rain in So. Carolina. (So much for this vacation.) Flattered that you referred to my post, Apres is such a Eleanora Duse kind of a fragrance, and if you don’t have at least an aspect of your psyche similarly inflected, it just comes off as Sandy Dennis!

  2. Natalie says:

    Great topic. I like to believe a certain amount of candy is allowable. Unfortunately, for me, Apres l’Ondee smells just awful, and not like candy at all. Unless it is soggy candy mixed with salty tears? ;)

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Salt water taffy perfume? (Sorry, doing a beach side vacation, LOTS of that stuff around.)

      It’s true, the current version is different, and I think often doesn’t work on people’s skins. It used to be great, but now – too light for my taste. And the dry down is wrong. It used to be a better coda, ethereal, less chemical than it is now. More heliotrope, less sugar.

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