Sunday, November 25, 2007

O Rose, thou Art Sick

We've reached the last stop in our scent journey, Rose Poivree. If you're just joining us, or want to relive the olfactory odyssey, check out the kick-off here, then read perfume reviews here, here, here, and here.

But who can be bothered clicking on all those damn links, anyway! Here's the line that launched a thousand perfume reviews so to speak, from this article:

One of the more astonishing civet scents on the market today is Rose Poivrée, from the French niche house the Different Company. This is a rose absolute -- rose absolute, F.Y.I., doesn't smell like ''rose''; it's dark and musty. Its perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena, resisted prettifying the rose and instead doused it with an animalic breath. Pungent with decay, Rose Poivrée is unsettling and gorgeous, the perfume that Satan's wife would wear to an opening at MoMA.

Whoa. Wretchedly glamorous decay, high fashion with a hint of evil. Oh yes, I want to smell that.

I applied Rose Poivree about an hour ago. At first, I couldn't see what the hoopla was all about. Flowery and musty, Rose Poivree smelled like nothing more than an old lady's underwear drawer stuffed with girdles, dusty sachets and prom corsages circa 1939. After about a half hour though, something else started pushing through, crowding out the rose and dust. At first whiff I couldn't place it, and had to take a longer sniff and yes, it became crystal clear: this perfume smells like body odor. Not all together unpleasant, sensual and definitely sexual. This must be what perfumeophiles mean by "animalic," a word I'm not yet able to use without quotes.

You know what Rose Poivree evokes? If you have a cat or know cats well, you'll be familiar with this scenario: cat smells something. Cat presses face into source of scent intently for a long time. Very slowly, cat raises head, with mouth open, as if to pull scent more completely through mouth and nose. Cat is very focused, glazed look in eye, distant expression. Clearly, an animal in the throes of involuntary animal behavior.

I used to call this "bad smell face" but the technical term is flehmen reaction. Here's a picture of a cat showing the flehmen reaction. It's more dramatic when you get to see the whole sequence, so drop some dirty laundry near your cat and see what happens.

A fascinating scent, pretty gutsy if you think about it. But I'm not sure I want to wear it. Jury's still out on Rose Poivree.


Batwing said...

I used to try to crack my little brother up with that cat-face when he'd gotten reprimanded for being spazzy. A little Flehming went a long way.

Professional Critic said...

I used to laugh and point at Miss Kitty when she flehmened, which was pretty often. But she seemed so serious, I always felt a little bad about it.