Monday, February 16, 2009

Just Right

A perfume can be very good but, with few exceptions, the drydown – a fragrance’s second skin – is what assigns it its place in history or consigns it to oblivion. Tacky sports car-driving fortysomethings notwithstanding, very few of us splash on fragrance seconds before meeting a special someone for dinner. (In fact, for me, the very presence of a bottle of cologne in the beverage-holder of a car is a burning sign to cut my losses and clear out immediately.) A good perfume or cologne introduces itself as a living memory, not a mask placed frantically over a less presentable facade.

Of late, I have been admiring two truly stellar, lighter-bodied unisex fragrances: perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain’s Coriolan (1998; now re-christened and reformulated as L’Ame d’un Héros, 2008) and perfumer Françoise Caron’s Eau Fugace for Astier de Villatte (2008), each is an exemplar of perfection in the drydown.

Unlike the “head” and “heart” of a fragrance, the drydown is that phase of its evolution which best shows off its pedigree. A great drydown can never come from using shoddy, third-rate materials. For Coriolan, the drydown is a brief poème chypré of oakmoss, patchouli and helichrysum (otherwise known as everlasting flower); for Eau Fugace, its a takeoff on traditional eau de cologne but with written for Romantic strings, mainly petitgrain, basil, thyme and patchouli. One is cool, one warm.

Neither Coriolan nor Eau Fugace is reinventing the wheel. These certainly aren’t scents for the treasury, but there is a quiet, limpid, just-right sort of elegance about them that should land them a place in any man’s (or woman’s) life.


Blogger ScentScelf said...

Oh! Thank you for this...these two are intriguing--or at least, you make them seem so. ;)

Thanks also for the chuckle...40 somethings in sports cars are indeed all about the top notes, no?

February 19, 2009 at 7:20 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

ScentScelf- You're welcome. Coriolan really flies under the radar and, now with Guerlain rolling out its newer incarnation at nearly 10x the price of the original, worth seeking out. The Eau Fugace is literally brand-new, the juice is very well done and the packaging (box, bottle, label) sheer perfection. I need to see this on a shelf in my bathroom. Need to.

February 20, 2009 at 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coriolan and Eau de Rochas are my two summer favorites. I'm so glad to see Coriolan getting some love from you, too--I love reading your reviews. Of course, now I have a powerful jones for Eau Fugace.

February 20, 2009 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Thank you. I love my readers, too. Your jonesing for EF is well-justified. I found it at John Derian in the East Village.

February 23, 2009 at 8:32 AM  

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