Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just Dandy: Les Folies Fougères

If I could buy a large-format bottle of Swiss perfumer Vero Kern's Kiki and if, on doing so, every other single bottle of perfume were taken from me, I would still die a happy man. (OK. I'd plead for a small "mercy" bottle of Jacques Polge's almost divine Les Exclusifs de Chanel scent 31, rue Cambon, too, but that's for a future posting.) Kern, who has tutored fellow Zürich perfumer Andy Tauer – see my posting on his Rêverie au Jardin – has fashioned in Kiki a thoroughly enjoyable, if slightly abstract, improvisation on a fougère accord. What's more, she's created a fougère that embodies my dandy ideal, a sort of Rilke-meets-Colette. The sacral meeting the sacrosanct, if you will. Or Montparnasse meets Potsdamer Platz. On application, one smells a good dose of lavender and white flowers: heady, indolic jasmine obscured among them along with muguet, rose, lemon and lily. Like Tauer's Rêverie, the medicinal side of the lavender is almost entirely absent. Unlike Onda, also reviewed here, I don't find much development on the skin. My olfactory sense is fairly overwhelmed by the initial strength. The indoles, however, do take this scent on a journey from the soapy powder notes of freshly starched linen sheets to the scene enacted on those sheets, as if the scent itself were trying, at first, to hide a (how shall we say it) much-compromised reputation. As in a classic, clean, gentlemanly scent like Penhaligon's English Fern, a eugenol note, i.e., clove, is readily apparent, warming things up while lending a crispness. But the inherently naughty smirk of Guerlain's Jicky takes hold of the reins before Mr. Propriety gets ahead of himself. What brings it on, I cannot say. It isn't civet. Perhaps white musk. Its elusiveness speaks to Kern's genius as a blender. What seems simple here is not so simple. In fact, I would wager that, besides the synthetics, there are a dozen naturals here that Vetivresse in her incomplete wisdom cannot place. But, then again, Kiki isn't about wisdom – it's about a certain gamine-like angularity ... and, hélas, the folly of endless olfactory analysis.

Kiki will be available in the U.S. in mid-2008.


Blogger Vetivresse said...

Vero herself wrote to tell me that the base note contains ambergris. Not white musk. I must go to my sample later on today for another sniff.

September 13, 2007 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Qualification of my last comment: ambergris "in addition to" a group of synthetic musks.

September 13, 2007 at 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What has struck me about all of Vero's scents is the way that they all start out of a double whammy of scents and then open up and become eerily transparent, like the sky above the city- or landscape. Rather like waking up with the sunshine practically deep-frying you through the windowpane and then opening the window to feel sky and air and sunshine and plants and birdsong and....
Kiki to me smells of exciting adventures waiting just around the bend, of living-in-the moment, of giving in to whims. Of freedom.

September 14, 2007 at 5:05 AM  

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