The Tropical Nightmare

If there are many ingredients in perfume more polarizing than tropical flowers I would like to know what they are?  Possibly cumin, or maybe melon notes, but to me few ingredients are as likely to cause an instant brawl on a scent forum, than the smell of the tropical flowers.

Take Chanel’s Beige as an example. Beige got an awful, stinker of a review in Turin and Sanchez’ Guide;  not enough to put me off because, dear reader, very little puts me off -  but enough to give me pause. 

Since then I have gotten a sample of Beige and am wearing it and I can say that it reminds me instantly of two other controversial perfumes Les Nez’s Manoumalia (in fact it reminds me strongly of Manoumalia and that is funny because Turin and Sanchez loved that perfume-go figure) and Diane Von Furstenburg’s Diane.

The common link between the three is probably frangipani.  Its listed as a note in the Chanel and the Von Furstenburg perfumes, and though fragraea is listed instead in Manoumalia, the end result smells a whole lot like…frangipani to me.

Now you either like this stuff or you run away screaming.  I have no idea why Frangipani and Co. should be so alienating, but there it is.  People have had widely diverging experiences with Manoumalia  (including this very funny take by Mals) and mostly have kept a respectful distance from the Von Furstenburg.  But I think the problem has to do with putrescence.  It’s in all three perfumes to varying degrees.

Frangipani and …hawthorn, are both in Beige.  Since they are indole fests on their own the combination is heavily indolic.  I find it very nearly as objectionable as Manoumalia, which may indeed be a fine perfume, but is absolutely noisome as far as I am concerned, and why?  That underlying note of death and decay.  You are sure that something has died under that perennial, and you don’t want to go excavating with the trowel in order to find out for sure.

What makes me even more intrigued with these perfumes, which you might as well go ahead and dub the “super indolics”, is that other people do not mind them at all and will happily wear them.  Indeed, one delighted poster on Fragrantica announced she was on her tenth bottle of Beige. Really?  Wow!  I am on my tenth bottle of nothing at all.

But for this lady the scent was alluring in the extreme.  What can be so attractive in the odor of putrescence?  I have no clue but it must be attractive, and powerfully so for some smellers.

Although it may sound counter intuitive, of the three perfumes, I have to put in a good word for the von Furstenberg.  I think the frangipani note is best set off by a dry background and that is what it gets in Diane, along with a cool green violet top.  Of the three, and if I had to choose that’s the one I’d go for and it is going very cheaply these days at Marshall’s.  You get 50mls for 29.99 not a bad deal, but it bears remembering that this one is green/indolic and also that the eau de Parfum is much better and better lasting than the edt.

But all in all, when it comes to super indolics, I’m just not sure, you may like them, yes you may, but will other people?  Consider your dog’s fondness for Eau de Dead Squirrel, how well does this go down in your household?  See what I mean?

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12 Responses to The Tropical Nightmare

  1. ChickenFreak says:

    Indoles don’t smell to me like death or decay, they smell animalic–like life, if perhaps under-bathed life. Add this to the fact that my skin seems to make weird notes less weird, and I’m a good candidate for those super indolic fragrances. In fact, I didn’t get any indolic element at all from Beige, and neither did Himself when he sniffed it on my arm. I’ll have to pay closer attention next time.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      You are lucky. Period. I hope you know this.

      Went back to Beige and spritzed it both on wrist and paper thinking well, maybe I really have skin that makes indoles smell like animal life and have merely been confusing sexy with bad.

      The embarrassing-if consistent- result, was that Beige on paper smells ever so much nicer than on my skin which continues to register hawthorn and frangipani after five minutes of a pretty green note. On paper the whole thing is a French white flower perfume with expensive naturals. On my skin Beige is “Death in the Hedegrow”.

      Most unfair since I like animalics and regularly douse myself in Mouchoir de Monsieur which I refer to as “Jicky sans Culottes”.

  2. Michael says:

    When I grew up, my sister lived in a city (in fact she still does) that was borderline tropical. Frangipani trees were as common as oak trees here in the UK. I loved the smell of the flowers, but on the tree and no further, thank you. I have a similar idea about Gardenia. Gorgeous on the bush, but there it should remain. While jasmine can be similarly heady, I like it in perfume and in the garden, although I must say that there is not much more intoxicating than the smell of jasmine in the cool of the evening, after a raging hot day.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Right now staring out the window at a snowstorm that is supposed to drop several inches on us, so reading about borderline tropical cities is by contrast, impossibly charming. I’ve never smelled Frangipani growing in its natural state, and I suspect you are not alone in finding the scent better on the flower than on skin. Gardeniawise, I like one perfume only, and that is Gardenia Petale.
      As for jasmine, that I love. Do you know the old Coty perfume Les Muses? That is a beautiful jasmine Meg introduced me to, and really lovely. Otherwise I grow jasmine (usually Sambac), and not too successfully having destroyed two jasmine plants to date!

      • Michael says:

        I don’t know the Coty, to be honest. I’m not sure what jasmine grew in our garden when I was young. I doubt it was Sambac, but smelled amazing. Frangipani is not only a beautiful smelling flower, but a very pretty one too. The ones I encountered tended to be one of two types. The first is a white petal, waxy, and suffused with a bit of yellow. The second is pinker. Both smell great and I can’t recall any difference in the smell.

        Hope you didn’t get too much snow!

        • Blacknall Allen says:

          Nope, all the snow washed away in a rainstorm, much to my daughter’s disappointment! Frangipani sounds like a lovely flower. We had Confederate Jasmine in Rome, very starry and sweet smelling, perhaps it was that.

  3. Undina says:

    I like Beige (as in bought a mini bottle first and a small decant afterwards). It doesn’t smell to me all those awful things you described (though it was very amusing to read). But tenth bottle? Is she bathing in it?

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Some people really love Beige evidently. It smells pretty bad on me, but apparently a lot better on others. Frankly, it’s better on paper than on me.

  4. mals86 says:

    I still haven’t smelled Beige, but perhaps I should say nothing more about Manoumalia…

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Poor Beige, it is really not as much of a wowser as Manoumalia, and yup, may be you’ve had your say on Manoumalia- though I concur by the way. Beige is not so…fulsome, but it is a lot of Hawthorn and a lot of Frangipani.

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