Perfume inspiration can be found in the oddest places. Stephane Humbert Lucas, the artist behind Nez à Nez found his in the 1959 movie Hiroshima, Mon Amour. It's been many years since I last attempted to watch the film, and to the best of my memory it was too bleak and painful for me to sit through (then again, I can't even watch Bambi). Hiroshima, Mon Amour is probably one of the last artworks I'd have expected to incarnate as a perfume, and a sweet fruity vanilla at that.
Nez à Nez Hiroshima, Mon Amour opens as a sweet bubbly fragrance, almost frothy. It's nice despite having an off note there from the very beginning. It makes you take notice even if you don't mean to, and doesn't allow you to dismiss it as too cute. The way Hiroshima, Mon Amour reacts with my skin is quite pleasant and flirtatious. It's ripe and plummy with a distinct ambery feel, but there's a synthetic note or element in its heart that I find disturbing, and I suspect it was done on purpose. I'm probably projecting some of my memories of the movie, but there's something ominous and unpleasant lurking in the shadow of the blossoming plum trees.
Soon it dissipates in favor of a pleasant but generic musky vanilla dry-down. This Nez a Nez fragrance becomes too simple and too easy and loses all the edge it might have held earlier in the development. Maybe it's the level of expectations that arise when someone throws around references to such a revered art work. As much as I love honeyed fruit and vanilla perfumes, Hiroshima, Mon Amour doesn't deliver; I also suspect that the name is a quite a bit of a hindrance for something that's essentially nice and wearable.
Notes: Yuzu, Chinese mandarine, plum, Cade, Ambroxan, Birch, Saké, Cherry nut, Beeswax, Musk, Amber, Vanilla.
Nez à Nez- Hiroshima, Mon Amour ($165, 100ml EDP) is available from Henri Bendel in NYC and at Luckyscent. The sample for this review was provided by Henri Bendel.
Photo from Alain Resnais's Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959)featuring Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada via metakiosk.wordpress.com.