20 April 2010

Happy 4/20: Stoned by Solange Azagury-Partridge

One of the more romantic notions of perfume that I'm susceptible to is the 'signature scent' -- when a person wears only one scent and routinely enough to be recognized by it, the person and the scent becoming inseparable in the minds of those who know them. It would be nice, wouldn't it, to have one less choice we feel we must make?

As appealing as the idea is, I've sacrificed the comfortable regularity of a signature scent for the equally compelling joy of collecting, and chief among the pleasures of accumulating a scent collection is the matching of scents to the right occasions and moods. It brings about the opportunity to go beyond just 'good' or 'bad' in appreciating perfume; to consider whether a scent is celebratory or solemn, discreet or gregarious, mellow or tweaky, or any number of other specific qualities. It gives perfume a chance to contribute to one's experience of an occasion, rather than being merely incidental.

Take what I'm wearing in celebration of today's date (which has, yes, some significance for me): Stoned, the 2006 debut perfume from London jeweller Solange Azagury-Partridge, authored by Lynn Harris of the Miller Harris line. Beyond the chuckle-worthy coincidence of its name, Stoned has about it a rich, hazy yet contemplative feeling that, while not quite psychotropic, would provide a just-about-perfect complement to such - ahem - activities.

As floral-orientals go, it's quite gingerly with its floral facets (jasmine and rose), which are stacked up front and gorgeously dirty. In the first instant the florals are joined by a light, fresh bergamot that seems to be replaced in the very next instant by some mild but wholly present patchouli. It's the kind of earthy, musty patchouli I love and neatly avoids the hippie-dippie zone.

About fifteen to twenty minutes in, all of that cedes the foreground to a powdery, blanket-like layer of resins and tree moss. The super-rich labdanum, benzoin and heliotrope sometimes verge on ice cream-sweetness, but the tree moss along with a high-quality bourbon vanilla and sheer musk in the base keep it tasteful. It's also relatively understated in its sillage, but sticks around for at least five or six hours on me.

The sole comment I received on a prior wearing of Stoned was that it smells "like the '80s." I didn't disagree, at least in the sense that the soft, vintage-y texture could easily pull off the impression of an unearthed, decades-old thrift store treasure. Opulence is another sense in which Stoned harkens back to the days of bigger, badder orientals, but this opulence is somewhat contrived, taking the form of microscopic diamond dust blended into the perfume and an exquisitely cheesy crimson bottle (complete with vaguely-Asian goddess stopper). The scent itself is not ostentatious and shouty the way Poison or Antaeus or other '80s powerhouses can be. It's rich and full-bodied, but lets the packaging (and price) do the shouting.

All things considered, if I had three extra bills lying around, I'd happily add that cheesy bottle to my collection -- even if it's only perfect for one very special day of the year.

Stoned eau de parfum is available in the 100ml bottle at Lucky Scent.

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