One of the trends that I noticed most particularly in 2014 was the increasing inclusion of powerful synthetics in high end perfumes-including niche. Ouch. Many materials hurt my nose, many give me headaches, and all of them are horrid when encountered in the subway or worse, a restaurant.
Back in the early Oughts when the trend was for whisper-thin wraith perfumes in the wake of the attack of unsophisticated pudgy gourmand fragrances which had bowed the shelves at Sephora, all you could smell was the retreating tiptoe of L’Eau d’Issey off consumers’ skins. You may not have liked E d I, but at least the stuff was discreet. The new Power Orientals are not. Some are fired up by synthetic ouds, and some by other molecules, but they are intrusive. 90’s perfumes didn’t feature sinus buster aroma chemicals du jour, the PO’s do and whoo! What a stench!
Actually, I’m not surprised at the change, because luxury brands have been trying to gain Middle Eastern market share, and often they try to do this with strength of formula. Maybe this is not the right stratagem. After all, perfume was an art in the Middle East when the Crusaders were quailing at that newfangled terror: bath time. Some of the POs, however, are so strong you tend to smell like the Crusader before his yearly bath and this is not a good thing.
Offenders? Well OK, there is something out there that haunts me. I initially encountered it in several synthetic oud perfumes. Saks’ New York Oud was the first, but not, let me hasten to add, the last. I scrubbed and scrubbed frantically, but the stuff stayed on all day. Recently I ran into another heavy hitter hidden in the dry down of Naomi Goodsir’s L’Or du
Serail. Wowsa! The pretty Calvados beginning conceals a powerful synthetic coda that nearly singed all the hairs out of my nostrils. Flowers? Maybe macerated in the depths of the aforementioned alcohol, but never mind, I could not get past that blast of whatever it was lurking in the tail.
Then there was Knot; a nice enough beginning with another one of the house’s nods to leather underneath a lot of orange blossoms and roses, but the end was torture. Uck, was my reaction.
Finally, and rather unhappily, I ran into something dark and tarlike in the accord of de Nicolai’s Cuir Cuba. Before I came to the middle of this, which closely resembled Parfum d’ Empire’s Fougere Bengale, the perfume was the usual well-constructed Nicolai concoction, but something was there making the composition turgid and pungent in a way that I could not abide. I can understand. The house’s greatest success has been with Patchouli Intense and they wanted another dark
hit. Well, intense, Cuir Cuba certainly is, and dark, too, but if you like this sort of thing I would go with Fougere Bengale instead. Cuir Cuba is just too tarry.
Basically, the trend is for some material that is way whiffy and if you adore this sort of thing then do apply sparingly.
Regardless, please enjoy responsibly.