You may remember the residual hoohah, with some people grumpily declaring in my family, they didn’t care if the grapefruit made them look like Miley Cyrus (in her pre-twerk Hannah Montana days), they just didn’t like the smell.
It’s true that grapefruit has a certain sulfurous something lurking in its clean, crystalline depths. The sulfur tinge in grapefruit is sort of like taking one of those glass bottomed boat tours they give in the Virgin Islands and spotting a giant squid in the aquamarine waters below you. It’s disconcerting and liable to capsize the entire expedition, and the only takeaway will be squid, and nothing but squid.
This is the reason that I’ve always been sort of on the fence about grapefruit in perfume, I fear the appearance of the deadly sulfur monster. I smell it even in wonderful productions such as Pamplelune, and the Guerlains do some of the very best citruses in perfumery. So I was surprised to like Miller Harris’ Le Pamplemousse as much as I have. It came via a parcel from the generous Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume, and I have been as pleased with this as with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Pamplemousse, which was my previous favorite.
I say previous because there is a good deal going on in Le Pamp. This is really a citrus chypre with a warm woody base to it, and I find that the result is one of the best such efforts I have smelled in years. But then Miller Harris is good-very good as a perfumer- and her work these days is more natural smelling than Lutens’, fuller than most De Nicolais, and has a complexity to it which doesn’t come simply from using a lot of naturals. Ms. Harris thinks about her perfumes clearly, and Le Pamplemousse has a kind of fidelity to the plant and food aspects of grapefruit that I find rejuvenating.
She lets you smell the fruit on the tree and in the garden, and in that sense Le Pamplemousse is like Parfum d’Empire’s Azemour Les Orangers in walking you through the citrus grove but happily without the cumin that was in Azemour. This pamplemousse is more wearable than the Guerlain which always manages to give me a headache and then leaves a distinct sulfur note on my skin as a souvenir of our intimacy, which I would prefer to forget as soon as possible. This is the sort of encounter I try to avoid, and suspect that Pamplelune is not quite what it once was. Didn’t it smell more like candied grapefruit ands grapefruit flowers once upon a time?
But never mind. Now I can wear this instead.