Monday, June 16, 2008

What I Smelled, What I Couldn't Smell (and the winner of Kiki)

1. What I smelled (and wished I hadn't): Arabie by Serge Lutens
In theory, I should have loved Arabie. It has spices by the buckets, Mediterranean dried fruits (dates and figs, my favorites), sandalwood, myrrh and benzoin. It practically has my name written all over it. But this just comes to remind us how note lists are only suggestions and give no guarantees as to what happens on skin, and more important in this case, how the mind interprets the scent. Basically, this is the smell of an Arab market. The Lutens-Sheldrake has completely captured its essence. Arabie is an exotic journey to faraway lands, and in that sense it's a winner.

The problem? I hate it.

Hate is a strong word and maybe I shouldn't use it, but the effect Arabie has on me is so suffocating that I just can't stand it. I've been to these kind of markets and the scent is scarily authentic. It feels like I'm standing in the middle of a spice shop, sacks and containers of the most potent stuff around me, the air is hot and it's getting hard to breath. And the biggest problem is that all the smells of the souk mix together and I know that the next alley host the fish stores. While I can't smell it here, of course, I just know it's there, and I want to run away. Or scrub myself raw (and the last time I tried it on I forced myself to keep it on till the bitter end. While it softened and became more honeyed, the souk was still there).

2. What I couldn't smell (and wish I could): Escentric Molecules- Escentric 02 and Molecule 02
There's a lot of press material and discussion of the scents, the house and the creator, but I won't go into this for one simple reason: I can't smell a thing. The Molecule one starts with nothing at all, then there's something soft and far away, then nothing. The Escentric starts like rubbing alcohol and within 10 seconds disappears and leaves my anosmic nose frustrated and empty.
I already knew I was anosmic to some musks, so the latter is not really shocking. But Molecule is supposed to be centered around the scent molecule found in ambergris, a note I can usually smell just fine, be it rare and real or its more common substitute. I have no idea what's up with that, but I wish I could smell these two.
* The Blond can't smell them, either.

3. The winner of a nice sample of Kiki by Vero Kern is Jenna. Please email me your address.

Arabie ($120) is available from all the usual suspects who sell the Serge exports. My original sample came with other purchase from Aedes, though my last (ever) testing was at a Blue Mercury store. Escentric Molecules scents are sold both in Aedes and in Scent Bar (Luckyscent) in L.A. and cost $140 a bottle. I might as well spray myself in Pelegrino. My samples of both EM scents were a PR freebie.

Image: Understood by Thomas C. Fedro


  1. That makes me wonder if Molecule02 and Escentric02 are sort of like the Emperor's new clothes. Maybe they're having a good laugh at our expense?

  2. I could barely discern those two. Even the girl at the shop said she couldn't smell it on herself, but could on others.

    Arabie I liked, but I haven't been to that market.

  3. I love, love , love Ambroxan (molecule 2), for its complex quality.In my nose. But, I have friends who could not smell a thing when I showed them Ambroxan.
    Thus, with this in mind, we suddenly have to start thinking what a single molecule fragrance is, and why someone would want to market this.
    And then you suddenly see rather complex thoughts arising and you reach for help in a bottle. And with you I reach for Kiki, for sure not a single molecule but a relieve when it comes to these questions ;-)

  4. I haven't tried the 02's yet, but I have no trouble smelling the 01. Of course, different molecule, different rules! Must sniff.

    I can't deal with Arabie either. There's also an old Mac one called Hypersouk which has the same idea but with less dried fruit. It's still like being smothered with scented, date-stuffed pillows, though.


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