One of the most maddening things about being a collector is that it’s never a straight line from one absolute desire to the next. Too many desires happen simultaneously, tugging mind and wallet in all different directions. Because I both hate making decisions and think about things too much, I try to separate the fragrances I want into those that are reasonably accessible to me and those that are perpetually out of reach, whether due to price or availability. And with that dreary explanation, here are three exquisite scents that I can’t seem to get my hands on:
I’ve actually never smelled Cologne Pour le Soir, from which Absolue draws its foundation (a creamy, benzoin-heavy amber accord, incense, rose and honey), but I already know I prefer Absolue. I’m convinced that this foundation only makes its mark at full tilt, as it is in the latter. The magic-hour hue of that sticky, sweet core gets darkened several shades by cumin, sandalwood and an unmistakably dirty civet that’s earned Absolue many a carnal-themed review and the title “Skankfest of the Year."
My reasons for keeping it off the immediate buy list? A) I already own Musks Kublaï Khan, which is enough of a “skankfest-sweet-oriental” showpiece already, and B) $175 is too much to spend on something I could only get away with four days out of the year. Still, I do pine for those zinc bottle caps…
Mark Buxton Around Midnight ($1.73 / milliliter, according to current Euro exchange rate)
I know I said in the last post that Annick Menardo is my perennial number one among perfumers, but I was a Mark Buxton groupie first (as I also mentioned in the last post, the first perfume I loved was 2 Man, easily Buxton’s best for Comme des Garçons). To my surprise, Around Midnight is the only scent from Buxton’s eponymous collection that seems to be anywhere near my own wavelength.
I’ve read people describe it as a stylistic chameleon, moving eerily from aromatic fougere territory to chypre to oriental. You could certainly think of it that way, especially if you never want to actually enjoy it. Or you could just stop thinking and take in the pepper and chamomile (fresh and aromatic like lavender but without that Irish Spring sourness that gives me the heebs), the brilliantly structural (versus ornamental) jasmine, and a powdery wood-amber base.
The overarching sense I get isn’t all that chameleonic. While there doesn’t seem to be a discrete incense note per se, there is very much an incense ‘feel’ or character that lingers over most of the development; a smoky haze obscuring and blending a disparate (and quite saturated) riot of color, and a very familiar Buxton effect.
I’ve enjoyed my tiny sample of Around Midnight down to its last drop, and with Lucky Scent now sold out of it, I can only turn to First in Fragrance, where as you may have guessed, I would have to pay out the nose in Euros. The last time I ordered a scent from Germany I paid €19 - nineteen! - for standard shipping and it took three weeks and two trips to the post office in Bed-Stuy to get it. Whee.
This is terribly handsome, utterly desirable and very Tom Ford-priced juice. Imagine original Polo in a Tom Ford black tie look (and in case you’re thinking this is strictly a masculine exercise, it actually works for whichever gender you dress; ditto for the fragrance itself).
In lieu of a “Top 10 of 2010!” listicle (if you’re craving that kind of thing, you can go here or here or here or here), I'm presenting a list of things that feel direly inappropriate while wearing Italian Cypress:
• Spilling coffee on my sleeve while stumbling through a subway turnstile
• Tapping my foot to Blondie’s “Slow Motion” on the subway
• Being on the subway at all
• Being clumsy enough to give myself a papercut
• Wearing a sweater I didn’t realize was completely covered in lint
• Sniffling, sneezing or any other sign of infirmity
• Being under 5’10”
• Cheap underwear
• Cheap anything
• Eating dinner alone
In other words, wearing Italian Cypress with any kind of regularity would probably result in some very unnecessary self-esteem issues. Happy New Year!