Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Take: A Hankering for a Flankering

It's so fucking hot. Honestly. Yes, up here in the north the mid-60's counts as hot (That's roughly 18 to 20 for you Celsius lovers). Even I know it's not THAT hot per se, I've been in a 100 degree bake-your-goddamned-brains-out situation a few times, but the fact it's hit that in the first part of June just weeks after the final dying dusts of snow is killing me, and the mysterious lack of June wind is making me cook even more. I'm horrified thinking about what will happen in July and August. Like it or not, summer is here, and summer is intense. Bring on the seasonal flankers!

Seasonal flankers interest me because for some reason, some perfumier decided "We should have a variance of this fragrance for summer, because, well, things smell differently in the heat and spring blooms bring a different general aroma to the atmosphere". Sound logic on paper, but is it really that necessary? Think about it, our experience of smell is tied to... exactly that, experience. 

Before I go on, for those without the vocab, a flanker is a follow-up perfume or cologne that is inspired by one before it, usually with a tag on its name. I.e. an original would be Euphoria, and a flanker would be Euphoria Intense. Seasonal flankers are most commonly summer flankers, editions that are allegedly more appropriate for the warmer months.

Back to the show:

We know what something smells like in our minds because we've smelled it at some time before and have created a chronological reference for that time. How conscious are we of categorizing the smell of particular items based on the time of year we smelled them? Other than natural phenomena (the trees and flowers of places you've been in spring and summer) and cultural phenomena (gingerbread at Christmas time), I see no logic behind it. I've smelled macaroni and cheese, Kraft Dinner for my Canadian peeps, and know what it smells like well, but I can't say as I'm able to logically categorize it into a time of year. Given this puzzlement and oodles of similar smells that I'm unable to categorize seasonally because they aren't a seasonal occurence in my life, I find the rapidly growing need for seasonal flankers to be downright fascinating. 

Marketing ploy to increase variety and sales? Probably a bit of that. An artistic variation of composition, creating a whole new medium of perfume grouping and pairing within the medium of perfumery as a whole, creating fragrances worthy to stand on their own? Maybe. All in all, unless something is a total standout, a seasonal flanker is silly to me and I tend to view it with a negative impression initially. That being said, I don't not enjoy a seasonal flanker (DOUBLE NEGATIVE POLICE ALERTED!). Consider this: If a summer version of a fragrance is good and able to stand on its own, why not give it it's own name in the first place? I'll tell you why not. Branding. Ka-Ching. That about sums it up. And fragrance houses can get away with it. We are lucky to live in a time, those of us in the first world anyways, where almost everything is at our fingertips in any time of year. For example, before post-industiral civilizations people could ONLY ever eat what was in season. Nowadays most people need to refer to recipe pins on Pinterest to determine what kind of melon is in season because they see melons at their market or bodega any day. This is our collective mentality and the re-seasoning (can't think of a better word) of fragrance is 99% branding novelty and probably only 1% legit perfumery, in my own not-so-humble opinion anyways.

That thesis being stated, I can handle it for now, fragrance houses, but please do not multiply flankers. I don't EVER want to see a chain of fragrances like.... "DAFFODIL SPRINGS" "DAFFODIL SPRINGS SUMMER" "DAFFODIL SPRINGS NIGHT" "DAFFODIL SPRINGS SUMMER NIGHT" "DAFFODIL SPRINGS SPORT" "DAFFODIL SPRINGS SPORT SUMMER" "DAFFODIL SPRINGS SUMMER SPORT NIGHT" "DAFFODIL SPRINGS SUMMER SPORT NIGHT SPECIAL RESERVE" and any possible combination I haven't had the time to mention. That would kinda piss me off.

Earlier I mentioned Euphoria Intense, a beautiful Calvin Klein men's fragrance that I enjoy. It's thick and fruity and considering the heat I think it pairs well with me now. I definitely need to review it this summer.

Stay hydrated, get tan, wear some SPF if you're tan enough, smell good, and peace out!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Main: Consumer's Choice - MEN

Yes, the time is here to cover the main event as far as I'm concerned, the Consumer's Choice award nominees for men's fragrances. And yes, as you can tell by my style of posts, I am a fan of fame and fortune, and I obsess over awards. While many choose to say that awards aren't a good marker of quality I have to content that without them we would not have the opportunity to use a critical mind in our experiences. If everything deserves an equal position in the grand scheme of things, then why bother innovate or create new things? Awards allow us to view an entirety within a small window or viewpoint. It's like a big, collective TED talk. Of course nobody has to agree with awards, how they're awarded, who or what should have won, etc., but the point is we should value the chance to use a greater POV of looking at the inside from out that awards bring.

Speech over! Down to business.

This year, the Fragrance Foundation offered up four nominees for Consumer's Choice in men's fragrances. Yes, they decided to nominate 6 in the women's category but only 4 in the men's (proving the Consumer's Choice awards are heavily a marketing ploy, but oh well), and yes this lineup is quite a bit different than the finalists in contention for the main prizes that foundation voters select. Are the Consumer's Choice nominations consolation for not being in contention for the big prizes, or sponsored social media advertising pandering? Or as I call it, "Adverpandering". We'll never really know, but I digress. Regardless of the legitimacy of the bandwagon I am still getting on it, as my love of fragrance outweighs my sense of economic morality.

Let's jump in. In my handy dandy sample packet that was sent out to first so many people who registered to vote, I found something amiss. Despite there being samples for all 6 women's nominated fragrances there were only 3 of the men's. One of the fragrances was mising outright. I thought perhaps an attached sample had gotten loose, but on its page there wasn't even a trace of any type of publication adhesive whether it be tape, glue, or some other industrial emulsion. Considering each other sample looked fairly unique and sourced from distributors to the foundation, I could only assume the distributor just did not submit samples. After much personal deliberation I decided that rather than approximate my judgement of the missing fragrance I am awarding it a big fat 0. A goose egg because they did not provide a sample. This was tough to do because the nominated fragrance in question is A*MEN Pure Leather, a flanker to the famous A*MEN by Thierry Mugler, which is one of my top 5 fragrances of all time (If I had to make such a list). But after I overcame that internal anxiety laden moment, I was at least thankful that my work had been cut down for me.

The three remaining nominated fragrances are:

  • Legend by Montblanc
  • Vince Camuto for Men
  • Acqua di Gio Essenza by Armani

Because there are only three, I'll spare the lengthy countdown. This is also because, honestly, my decision on which one to choose was painfully easy. Now don't get me wrong, the one that I picked is definitely a deserving scent, but there is a part of me that enjoys the subjective deliberation, the pros and cons list, the mental struggle, and so on of picking a winner. (Or picking which one I'm going to vote for, at least).

So, without too much fanfair, my selection is:

Legend by Montblanc

The first thing that hits you with Legend is "Wow. Another sweet fragrance", but like so many good fragrances for the ages Legend might have an assaulting first split second, but the full body after shows it is a true star. It falls in a category I've created in my own mind called "Dark Cream", the type of deeper, woody scent that comes off as dessert inspired but doesn't quite trek into sugar territory. Lately this style has seemed to be en vogue and I don't believe it will pass any time in the near future. Give it to 2020, but hey, who's predicting?

Anyways, that is my pick and vote for the category this year. Vince Camuto for men and Acqua di Gio Essenza definitely have their time and place, but neither gave me a sense of inspiration nor a distinct character of innovation.

The awards will be revealed soon, and I will provide an ample wrap up of the men's selections!

Comin' Up Soon: My next review, and it's a new purchase!