That dubious distinction still seems to go to floral aldehydes, the unpopular but deserving members of the floral class. Never mind that the class photo features No 5 sitting front and center, the attractive teacher, chicly conservative in her boxy little jacket, with a sprawling disparate group around her, some obviously not having paid attention to the dress code laid down for picture day. Some of the newcomers are in jeans, Clean’s Cotton T Shirt for instance.
Perhaps this unpopularity of late years has had to do with the perception of being unfashionable. If so, then the unfashionable stigma on aldehydic florals dates from some time in the 1980s. Not much came out in that decade that was recognizably aldehydic and floral. Nina Ricci’s Fleur de Fleurs dates from 1982, a green aldehydic scent that fell into the group by default, as did Bogner’s Sonia, and Shiseido’s cult hit Nombre Noir, and even such oddities as Italy’s Deborah Time. Only Amouage’s Gold really had much lasting impact, and that because it was a new spin on an old genre, mixing the aesthetics of middle eastern perfumery with French.
The nineties produced even less of note in aldehydic florals, outside of Lady Stetson, and Liz Taylor’s White Diamonds, indeed it has not been until recently that the family has tried to put a foot on the bottom of the floral social ladder and attempt to climb.
Something has changed and maybe it’s the public’s taste. There have been a number of releases that surprised me by being AFs. There was Rosa Magnifica, one of the very few Guerlain aldehydic fragrances, and since then a steady trickle including Cartier’s So Pretty Eau Fruitee, and Agent Provacateur’s Maitresse, an interesting fragrance that feels chemically unstable to me. The pace of such releases has picked up though, with Ann Gerard’s Cuir de Nacre from 2012, and Sonoma Scent Studio’s Nostalgie, or Andy Tauer’s Noontide Petals both from 2012.
Some of these fragrances feel almost like soliflores boosted by aldehydes, Le Labo’s Baie Rose 26 for instance, which features a large pink pepper component, or Ulrich Lang’s Lightscape which does a similar thing with violet, getting it to vibrate at a register that reminds you of fluorescent bulbs. Lightscape glows with an unsettling incandescence that makes you want to rub your eyes. The perfume is definitely modern though, not like your Mother’s Meteorites on its familiar violet lipstick wave length.
Is any of this likely to stick around or prove wearable in the long run? So far I have got mixed feelings about the new AFs. Some don’t last long – a problem; some seem more like good ideas than good scents – another problem; and the others seem to be re-hashes of the past, and while that is not a bad notion, it isn’t, by definition, an original one. Maybe the trend has to run a bit longer, to get a grip on the possibilities out there. One of the greatest aspects of this kind of perfume, after all, is the easy wear of the best of them. They slide on as comfortably as old jeans.
And how many pairs of jeans does the average woman own? I think the floral aldehydes stay in the picture.
PS To my readers, I am going to alter my posting schedule over the summer because SCHOOL’S NEARLY OUT. If you have kids you know what this means. I will be posting Mondays and Fridays until Labor Day.