Diptyque’s Eau Des Sens (2016)

Diptyque's Eau de Sens (2016)
Diptyque’s Eau de Sens (2016) © Victor Wong

 

I have always been excited about Diptyque’s new perfume release, particularly the artwork on the packaging. This time the label art of Eau des Sens shows an orange in the middle (for it is an orange blossom-themed perfume), and placed around the orange is the title of the perfume in the form of a swirling vortex, supposedly giving you a “Twilight Zone” opening credit mysterious feeling.

I thought, maybe the oranges used in this perfume had some hypnotic properties that made you suck lemons, but upon first spray, it didn’t, but it did create some sort of a confusion…

To me, Eau des Sens is a very straightforward orange blossom perfume, released just in time for springtime wearing. Why did they pick orange blossom for the “perfume of senses”? Why not musks? Or spices, or some complex flower accords? The marketing copy of Eau des Sens (Senses) goes like this: “A confusion of the senses – Some perceive the scent in terms of colors while others hear whispering voices, taste ambrosia or feel as if they are burrowing their noses into soft skin. Presenting Eau des Sens, an awakening of the senses.”

Just when I thought everything was just a marketing ploy, the scent progression of Eau des Sens fascinated me after I had given it a full day’s wearing, and it went like this: opening – orange blossoms + bitter orange citrus + some green accords, lasted for half an hour or so; the middle – something mildly sweet and soft that lasted for an hour or so, and finally, and suddenly, it smelled like orange blossoms again, but it’s not! It’s actually a very long lasting angelica/patchouli/juniper berries accord + the remaining of the orange blossoms in the opening that had fooled me into thinking it’s a big orange blossom perfume with hours of longevity. My conclusion: If you want an orange blossom perfume that lasts, this is it.
With this perfume, Diptyque has returned to fine form – natural smelling, easy-to-love, quite simple, with a little hippy twist.

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Adidas’ Originals by Jeremy Scott (2015)

Adidas Originals by Jeremy Scott © Victor Wong
Adidas Originals by Jeremy Scott © Victor Wong

Recently I was reminded by a friend that I liked “weird shit”. We were sniffing new perfumes at a department store and I showed him some of the newer perfumes that I liked, and he didn’t like any of them. “Nah, this smelled like an old man”, he said. His girlfriend said, “I bet there’s Indian oil in this perfume. Go check out Fragrantica.” I didn’t, because I was sure that no company would ever put “Indian oil” in their notes breakdown. Frankly, all I had shown them was a chypre perfume.

Actually that made me think… Do I prefer “weird shit” to “good stuff”? I only know the type of perfumes that my friend likes are designer and mainstream niche, and in my opinion, his “fragrance palate” is not very broad. (Hmm… Did I sound like a pompous asshole? In retrospect, my palate wasn’t very broad either, but I didn’t brush off challenging scents too easily.) I told him I liked “weird shit” last time we met because I was a bit tired and didn’t want to elaborate. (This also reminded me of my other friend Fifty-Fifty who absolutely hates Mac computers, and when he asked me why I loved Mac, I just told him it’s a “fashion statement”. He nodded his head in glee while spending a full day cursing and removing Windows Vista.)

In fact, the real reason why we met at the department store was that he wanted to sell me his “Adidas Originals by Jeremy Scott” perfume. He bought it on an impulse, and he regretted it. I had never smelled it before we met, and really, no one needed to because, come on, look at that bottle – it’s a collector’s item, the perfume is just icing in the shoe.

He told me that he didn’t like the smell, which was expected, not because he liked only a small subset of “normal” masculine perfumes, but I expected it to smell subpar. But to my surprise, it smelled good – pepper, rose and incense, something you don’t find in a regular pair of sneakers or any regular $15 Adidas sports scents. While It doesn’t smell rich, resinous or oudy, it smells modern, sweet and fresh, and definitely “niche”. (It reminds me of Le Labo Baie Rose 26, too.) However, I can see soccer jocks finding this perfume too strange to match their masculine persona and their armpits not accepting a rose scented perfume.

While we were strolling through the department store, he mentioned that he liked Maurice Roucel’s work. Later I found out that Adidas perfume was co-designed by Maurice Roucel. Oh, the irony.

Diptyque’s Oyedo (2000) and L’eau de L’eau (2008)

Diptqyue's Oyedo and L'eau de L'eau © Victor Wong
Diptqyue’s Oyedo and L’eau de L’eau © Victor Wong

Oyedo

I have never eaten or seen a real yuzu orange, but its smell is never a stranger to me, for I had eaten a lot of Japanese hard candies when I was kid, (I wish I didn’t, but it’s too late, I am obese) and yuzu flavored ones were always in the assorted mix. It’s hard to describe what it smells like if you have never smelled one before; the frustration is almost like telling you a grapefruit smells like an orange but not exactly.

Smelling Diptyque’s yuzu-based Oyedo is a pure joy for me, for it’s refreshing, tart, candy-like, minty, citrusy, my childhood, and has even a little hint of petroleum. The quick evaporation of the scent and the citrus oils burn my skin like no other perfumes, but strangely that makes it a great unisex chilly summer perfume if you don’t mind a little moaning after the application. If you have Japanese kids, they will like you more when you wear it.

L’eau de L’eau

L’eau de L’eau is Water of Water and water of water is no super water but a pomander perfume. A pomander is the corpse of an orange after torturing it to death by pushing a lot of cloves in its body and hanging it high and dry. It is supposed to smell amazing if you manage to keep it from growing molds. (I will try that unsaintly thing this Christmas.)

I wasn’t interested in this perfume because 1) It has two L’eaus in the title and l’eau means cologne to me and cologne has a secret name, Eau de Yawn; 2) It has a lot of oranges in the box art and I have some orange perfumes already. But, I didn’t see the cinnamon bark hiding in the illustration before and I am glad that I gave it another try in the department store – it’s powdery, spicy with cloves and cinnamon, rich with lavender, geranium and ginger, and finally a lot of citruses to make this fall and winter scent suitable for a summer wear. It smells quite amazing, I must say.

Lubin’s Gin Fizz (1955, reformulated 2009)

Lubin's Gin Fizz © Victor Wong
Lubin’s Gin Fizz © Victor Wong

I don’t enjoy drinking any alcohol beverages, and never have a craving for any, yet I have a vivid memory of me having a good time drinking gin mixed with 7 Up with my elder brother when I was a kid in the early 80s. My elder youngest brother, the “bad son” in the family (yet most beloved by my father) who never liked to study but bring explosive troublesome news to my parents, found out from a party that it was super cool to mix 7 Up with some Gordon’s London Gin and canned DeMonte fruit cocktail together and called it a “punch”. He smuggled a small bottle home and skipped the fruit cocktail part and let me have a glass. The gin portion was little and I didn’t get drunk at all, but I remember it tasted strange, somehow fragrant and bitter, and my brother had a handsome smirk on his face, which ultimately got a girl and her parents to come visit our home a few years later, for a matter my mom told me, “none of your business”.

Fast forward 30-or-so years, I was at a department store testing some Atkinson perfumes, and the British sales lady told me that the perfume 24 Bond Street had juniper berries in it, and the British absolutely loved it because juniper berries are used to make gin, and gin is the favorite spirit of the British. I carried this little piece of information with me and suddenly I understood why Penhaligons’ gin perfume was called Juniper Sling.

Later I became a bit obsessed with Lubin perfumes, I came across a few bottles on eBay called Gin Fizz (1955). According to Wikipedia, “a fizz is a mixed cocktail drink with some acidic juice (such as lemon or lime) and carbonated water. The fizz became widely popular in America between 1900 and the 1940s. Known as a hometown specialty of New Orleans, the gin fizz was so popular that bars would employ teams of bartenders that would take turns shaking the drinks. Demand for fizzes went international at least as early as 1950…” So here’s my wild guess: the “gin fizz” craze spread to France and Lubin created the hip and trendy Gin Fizz in 1955.

I thought it was fun to own a gin-themed perfume and I bought the modern reformulated version of Lubin’s Gin Fizz (2009). A spritz on the skin, I get a very refreshing gin note (juniper berries, lemon and lime), which I think it’s perfect for the summer (not sure if it is best for work), and quickly the gin gets shuffled to the bottom deck and the “perfume part” of the perfume kicks in, and it smells classy, floral, light, teasing with a little bit of warmth (jasmine, lily, iris, benzoin, oakmoss). While I definitely enjoy wearing it, it is most perfect if you are really at the bar scene wearing it; if you are a lady, I recommend walking in the room in an open back black dress and a good many sprays of Gin Fizz.

Byredo’s Palermo (2010)

Byredo Palermo © Victor Wong
Byredo Palermo © Victor Wong

I had once offered some samples of my perfumes to a nice guy nicknamed “TheNaughtyProf” whom I met on a fragrance forum. After testing out my scents, he politely wrote, “Do you do ANY citrus/citrus floral or citrus woods based frags?”

I think I might disappoint him for a long long time because I find citrusy fragrances/colognes very boring. If a bottle of cologne wants to impress me by jumping off a plane over the Grand Canyon without wearing any parachute I would just let it fall. I just hardly care for any colognes because 1) I have probably eaten too many oranges and lemons in my life, and they are not special to me, and 2) a lot of colognes all end up smelling similar to me when the citrus notes are gone. I have smelled Guerlain’s Eau de Cologne du Coq, Mouchoir de Monsieur, Eau de Guerlain, Eau de Cologne Imperiale, while their base notes all have subtle differences, I still regard them as “very similar”.

But Byredo’s Palermo (an Italian city) is a little different. Palermo smells like pomelos to me. They are huge citrus fruits that I only eat every Chinese Autumn Festival. (It’s just my family tradition to eat pomelos that time of the year and it’s a pain to peel a pomelo.) The citrus smell of pomelos is just subtlety different enough to push me off the edge to fall in love with it. (Similar to people who only like the smell of limes but not lemons.)

What’s funny about Palermo is that it doesn’t contain any palermo essential oils. However, the perfume just smells like pomelos to me, and I associate it to family good time. When the top notes are gone, Palermo again smells like any cologne to me. (Reapply!)

Guerlain’s Eau de Cologne Imperiale (1860)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

You are at a gas station convenience store, and you want to get a Twinkie cake snack. Instead of getting the freshest one on the shelf, you ask the cashier if they carry any that were made 15 years ago. You enthusiastically describe what the old packaging looks like and talk about how good the old recipe is, but as expected, he compassionately tells you that they don’t have any. He says he actually believes that the new one tastes as good as the ones made in the old days. You are not convinced and not giving up and drive around town hopping in and out from one store to another, and just when you are about to scream “why!?”, you find a very old store that has a bunch of 20-year-old Twinkies hidden in the back room. The manager tells you that each one costs $100 and you don’t even show a hint of shock on your face. You immediately buy two (one as a back up), and take a bite. It tastes a bit spoiled, but “really amazing”.

Do you find this ridiculous? No? Good. Never mind. I want to thank a group member for telling me that my local perfume store has stocked some Guerlain “treasures”. He pointed out that any Guerlain perfumes that come in a shiny gold box (as opposed to the current ones that are matte-bronze) have vintage formulations and are much sought after. Today I revisited that store and spotted a 250ml bottle of Eau de Cologne Imperiale in a “shiny gold box”. The price was good, and as a bonus, the cologne came in the famous Guerlain bee bottle. The sales told me she had never seen a Guerlain bee bottle before (!) and it looked very pretty. She took a sniff from the sample bottle and said, “hmm, it smells like 4711 cologne.” (10 times cheaper) I said, “Come on, it’s one of the best lime colognes!” (It’s true! I guess…)

Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage Intense (1984)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

On the Wikipedia page dedicated to Lanvin’s Arpege, it says that Arpege, Patou’s Joy and Chanel’s No. 5 are the three best known perfumes in the world. (I am surprised that Sharlimar isn’t included) Whether it still holds true or not, it makes me wonder what would be the three best known colognes or perfumes for men in the world? There are probably no right or wrong answers; what about Old Spice, English Leather and Aqua Velva? They are totally affordable, popular and still in production. Or may be Polo, Le 3′ Homme and Eau Sauvage?

Some time ago my coworker (he just got 30) was looking for a new cologne, I told him that he should try Eau Sauvage (1966) because I knew he liked citrus colognes a lot. He reported back that he liked it, but the sales woman told him he should not get it because it’s for old men. I said it’s totally absurd and she didn’t know any better. But secretly I partially agreed – It is the memorable dry down of Eau Sauvage that makes it is easy to associate it with the 70’s. But I thought since my coworker wasn’t even born in the 70’s, not many of his friends in the same age group would recognize it, anyway. Regardless, Eau Sauvage is so classy and classic, the citrus opening is so strong, the dry down is so rich and prestigious that its age is irrelevant – just like Michael Douglas can still get Catherine Zeta Jones.